You’re driving your car and you notice the steering wheel is vibrating, you have to hold it off-center to go straight, if you let go the car veers to the right or the left. When you bought the car the wheels were aligned and the car drove straight. Over time, general use, bumps over curbs, and potholes caused the wheels to be misaligned. If you want to have an easier time driving to your destination and save the wear and tear on your tires, you need to get your wheels aligned.
You are leading a project at work and it’s not meeting the deadlines that were set. When you started the project, everyone on the team understood and bought into the vision. Over time, other priorities came into focus, missteps, and mistakes, caused the project activities to be misaligned. If you want to have an easier time reaching the project milestones and save the wear and tear on the team members, you need to get your activities aligned.
How to get aligned. Getting out of alignment with car wheels happens all the time. We expect it, look for it, and deal with it by adjusting the suspension so the wheels sit on the road the correct way and move in the direction that the driver is steering. What about projects? It happens here all the time also. It’s actually just as easy to diagnose, but will take a bit longer to align than when you take your car to the mechanic. Here’s what you should do:
Go back to where you first got aligned – the vision of the end state. The reason that projects get out of alignment is that over time a team of people can forget why they are doing what they are doing. When we forget where we are going, any road seems like the right road.
Someone who knows quite a bit about cars, teamwork, and success is Mario Andretti. He is the only person to be named Unites States Driver of the year in three decades, the first driver to win IndyCar races in four decades, and the first to win auto races of any kind in five decades. On the importance of always knowing where you are going he said, “Circumstances may cause interruptions and delays, but never lose sight of your goal.”
Revalidate that each team member knows how what they do fits into the end state. Day to day activity can become unfulfilling if we don’t understand how what we do makes a difference. Everyone needs to feel connected to something bigger.
Vince Lombardi, one of the most successful NFL coaches and namesake of the Super Bowl trophy said this about teamwork, “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”
Get everyone back on the track to success – delegate with a plan. The project won’t work unless everyone is out working on their individual part. Don’t keep the control too close to home, you can’t keep directing everything.
Eli Broad founded two Fortune 500 companies in different industries (KB Homes and SunAmerica). His view on successful delegation is simple, “The trick to delegating is to make sure your employees share your priorities.”