At last – after five fascinating chapters (in my book, ‘Mapping Motivation’, from Routledge (https://amzn.to/2eqdSQq ) on motivation and then performance, we go in chapter six into the one of the crux issues – conundrums even – for all businesses and organisations: the issue of teams. Indeed, managing and leveraging the power of teams is one of the key skills of true leaders, an issue we deal with in more detail in chapter 8. But for now let us consider just one aspect of ‘teams’ that is important. The chapter contrasts the difference between a ‘group’ of people and a team. Groups may have names like ‘finance’ or ‘HR’ but having a shared name does not make one a team. So, as it says in chapter six:
“There are at least four characteristics that are vital to creating effective teams. First, the team has to have a clear remit, or mission. It is effectively what in military terms is called the Principle of the Objective. It asks overtly, what do we exist to do or to achieve? This principle or question enables the focusing of all the energies in the team towards accomplishing the thing that is the most important, namely, the mission.” [from Chapter Six of Mapping Motivation: James Sale, Routledge,[ https://bit.ly/2ep0dxJ ]
So let’s consider just this one thing, the remit, and how it relates to motivation. First, it is important to understand at a deeper level what a remit, or mission, is. Simon Sinek’s wonderful book, ‘Start with Why’, sheds some great light on this. For Sinek mission most usually means (in Corporates-ville) the WHAT we do. But as he points out, the WHAT can easily become mere manipulation; the great organizations provide a powerful WHY as well. This WHY is compelling when we clearly see our values are aligned with it; for WHY always reveals some aspect of our value system. Of course what Sinek is saying here is vitally important to motivation too, because as he observes it is highly motivational for individuals (and teams) to share the WHY.
Why is this? Because WHY is about values and values are essentially beliefs that we especially hold dear or important. In short, values are critical beliefs. But we know – and chapter 2 of ‘Mapping Motivation’ makes this abundantly clear – that the roots of motivation itself, or about 70% of the roots, derive from our beliefs. So that if mission is value-driven, there is a high probability that the remit itself creates motivation and engagement with the employees! Wow, that is a big plus factor; and it comes down to being clear, and letting everyone know, WHY we are doing what we are doing, and WHAT that big objective is ahead of us that we need – we want – to achieve. You’d think, then, that this was a no-brainer, but we have to keep beating the drum.
There are two further consequences of this sharing the WHY of the remit or mission. The first is that it is cohesive in itself: it, in other words, binds people together, so that a group is more likely to be a team. Why is that? Because trying to achieve a large and worthwhile objective that realizes important values frequently means that people will subordinate their own agendas in order to collaborate. Which means being a team: Together Each Achieves More. They get together so that they get focused on the HOW they will work towards the goal.
Second, and to return to the quotation from chapter 6, values and beliefs unleash energies in us, and the important thing is enabling ‘the focusing of all the energies’. In fact, it’s not just the energies – or the motivations as we call them – that need focusing. When a team is really in play, the energies first and foremost become focused into a laser like intensity, but so do the intentions, skills and knowledge of the members. All these start producing synergistic effects.
The chapter of course goes on to discuss the other three key factors in building a successful team, how groups have arithmetic, whereas teams have geometrical, strength, and to provide a whole raft of practical ideas, including reading Team Motivational Maps, that enable managers and organizations to get a stronger handle on how to build an effective team. Why not try the book for yourself? It’s a small investment with a big payoff.