In previous articles, I focused on the core foundation of effective teams, harmonizing skills, and having conflict around ideas. You see how each of these articles builds on one another. This time, I’ll discuss one of the most compelling challenges every team faces: ensuring that everyone is focused on a singular mission.
Nothing represents the concept of mission focus more clearly than the culmination of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, 50 years ago in July 1969. This mission actually began on May 25, 1961, when President John F. Kennedy, speaking to a joint session of the United States Congress said, “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.” Those 31 words were the beginning of what would become the largest undertaking and most singular focus any team could imagine.
We often think of a team as a small group of individuals, and that is correct. In this much larger scenario, it took multiple teams, all focused on a single mission, to make it happen. Within each of those smaller teams, it was essential that each member of each team have the same passion as their teammates in order for the ultimate mission to reach its culmination by landing on the moon July 20, 1969, and returning them safely to the earth on July 24.
Many people think that, on our service desks, it is difficult to garner this much passion for the business. In some cases, they are right. And yet, in many, the passion is there and simply needs to be tapped. It is human nature to truly want to help someone else. We see it day in and day out in the media. We also see it through the generosity of others when a natural disaster occurs.
Many people think that, on our service desks, it is difficult to garner passion for the business.
Stop and think about yourself for a moment. What is it about what you do on a daily basis that gives you the energy to get up? For many, it is the idea that they are making a difference. For some it truly is about serving others. I know from talking with teams across the country that many of us realize that we are a part of something bigger.
Obviously, finding the passion begins with hiring people who are passionate about what they do. As Jim Collins talked about in his book Good to Great, it is about the “Who” and then about the “What.” Using his analogy, you want to get the right people on the bus, get them in the right seats, and make sure you get the wrong people off the bus. Many top organizations actually let a position sit vacant until they can find the right fit for the position and the team.
Assuming you already have your team in place and need to extrapolate the passion, here are a few ways to transform your team’s focus on the mission.
- Elect a CFO to the team, not a Chief Financial Officer, rather a Chief FUN Officer. Admittedly, taking calls and emails from disgruntled customers can be enough to zap anyone’s energy and passion. Yet, when employees are having fun, it does not feel like work. By having a person delegated to this position (I recommend you rotate the person periodically, perhaps quarterly) it helps keep team members completely engaged and committed to the mission.
- Plan specific times for the group to be involved in something other than their daily activities. This can range from training sessions to helping a charity in the community. When teams find other ways to get passionate about something together, outside of work, they bring that passion back to work. One of my clients helps out at Thanksgiving by serving meals to the homeless in their town.
- Create an environment of safe connections where employees can feel safe to share what may be frustrating them. This goes back to our discussion about the need for vulnerability trust. Great team cohesion is not about working smarter or faster. When employees are making safe connections with colleagues, the team becomes stronger and more cohesive. This then transforms into passion for the mission.
- As a team, have each member consider their personal customer service experiences with different companies. Create a “Wall of Fame” and a “Wall of Shame” from those experiences and use those lists to discuss ways to increase your service capabilities and better complete your team’s mission. By recognizing the good, and the bad, in service environments outside of your company, team members will begin to see the good and the not-so-good within.
Did everything go spot-on through the process of landing a man on the moon? While I have no idea what transpired leading up to the launch, I am quite confident there were times where teammates were unsure and lost some of their passion. As a young boy watching everything unfold live on a black and white TV, I vividly remember the scene in mission control when the lunar module landed. Neil Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface and said, “One small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.” There were cheers, smiles, and tears of joy throughout.
For more on this topic, check out previous articles in this series:
Gregg Gregory is America's teambuilding mastermind, specializing in building winning cultures at every organizational level. A Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) with more than 35 years working at all levels within in corporate America, Gregg has delivered more than 2,000 keynotes and teambuilding trainings to more than 500 companies in the past 20 years. Named an HDI Top 25 Thought Leader in 2017, his expertise and articles have appeared in hundreds of business and trade publications, including SellingPower.com, Boardroom Magazine, and Drake Business Review. Follow Gregg and Teams Rock on Twitter @TeamsRock, Facebook, and LinkedIn.