When it comes to managing high-growth teams, I see misalignment stifling the productivity of so many founders and ultimately inhibiting the growth that businesses are able to achieve.
You see, when a business starts out and the team is relatively small, team alignment is easy.
You need your team to focus on something? There’s something you need to be finished by the end of the week? There’s a fire you need to fight?
When you’re only leading 3 or 4 people communicating this to the team is as easy as shooting off an email or having a conversation with the people sitting next to you.
One conversation and the whole team is on the same page. There’s no real need for a system as communication happens organically.
But as your company grows and your team begins to scale it gradually gets harder and harder to align your entire team.
Small miscommunications can snowball into larger problems. And suddenly each team member is working towards their own interpretation of the company’s agenda.
So how do we avoid this? What exactly can you do when your team grows to a point that relying solely on organic communication is doing more harm than good?
The key is structurally ingraining habits into your team’s calendar each and every week to ensure you are aligned company-wide.
In this video, I’ll share the three alignment rituals you should be incorporating into your team’s calendar each week in order to maintain high-performance as you grow.
Ritual One: Weekly Entire Team Meeting
This is an opportunity for everybody in the organisation to come together and review how you are performing as a business each month. At The Entourage, we do this weekly on a Monday morning.
To make these meetings as effective as possible, you should already have clearly planned and communicated the performance expectations across all departments for the month.
The weekly team meetings are then an opportunity for everyone to come together and review how performance is stacking up against monthly targets and objectives.
If you’re not performing as well as you had planned, the discussion is, “What do we need to collectively to improve performance and hit targets for the month?"
If you’re ahead, the discussion might be, “How do we bottle up the gains and ensure we finish strong for the month?”
The important distinction to make here is that this is not an abstract weekly planning meeting. This meeting should be about in-month performance, interdepartmental dependencies and anything that needs to happen to ensure you as a business finish ahead of the targets you have set for yourselves.
Ritual Two: One-on-Ones
This is the most important management tool in your management toolbox. Every single person in your company, whether you have a team of 4, 40, or 400 people, should have a 30 minute one-on-one with their direct manager every single week.
I break these one-on-ones down into 3 x 10-minute blocks:
10 minutes: Give your employee the stage
Start off by giving your direct report 10 minutes to communicate and express anything that’s on their mind. Whether it’s feedback, ideas of challenges, this 10 minutes is for them. It’s their stage. Their opportunity to be truly heard.
10 minutes: Review past week’s performance
Next, it’s time to review their previous performance over the previous week. How did they perform? Did they achieve what they set out to achieve? A-players love accountability, so if they’re a strong fit for your organisation they should lean into these accountability conversations.
While some businesses track KPIs monthly, you’re far more likely to miss targets if you wait until the end of the month to review performance. If someone in your team is slipping behind, you’ll be too late to make a difference if you wait until the end of the month.
By keeping your finger on the pulse each week you’re in a better position as a manager to work with your team to ensure weekly and monthly targets are hit.
10 minutes: Plan for the coming week
Now you’re aware of how your team member is feeling and performing, the focus shifts to the future. This is the time you spend setting them up for success in the week ahead.
If they haven't been performing, why not? What's been going on? Can you provide any additional support, or training, or anything to enable performance? And if they are performing, how do you help them best continue that momentum?
Ritual Three: A cultural activity
At The Entourage, we like to finish each week with a cultural activity so we get together as a team at 4.30pm every Friday afternoon for our Made It Happen Circle.
One of our values here at The Entourage is "Make it Happen" – in practice this means be outcome-orientated and drive projects forward. The Made It Happen Circle is simply an opportunity for the team to give gratitude and call others out for amplifying that value.
So recently my marketing team launched a new podcast – I could give a Made it Happen to our Community Manager, Mariah, for driving this forward.
It sounds formal, but believe me, it’s anything but formal.
We have some beer, wine, nibbles and then it’s a totally unstructured free-for-all. Whoever wants to talk, pipes up and over about an hour everyone has an opportunity to share.
Sometimes it small achievements, sometimes it’s big achievements. Regardless, everyone ends the week knowing they are part of something special and knowing that what they contribute is recognised.
This exact format may or may not work for your organisation, depending on the size and how you operate. Either way, think about a cultural activity you could implement to help ingrain unity into your team, and watch as your culture starts to blossom.
I’d love to know, what rituals, if any, have you used in the past? What has worked in your organisation? Share that with me in the comments below. I'll be there. Let's have that discussion.