What if a business viewed teamwork not as making sure everyone was working towards the same goal, but rather viewed teamwork as selecting the right employees and then clarifying and focusing that team on helping its customers/clients be successful?

At its core, I believe that a business (and it’s management) provide a platform to allow an employee’s professional and personal goals to line up with those of the clients and customers. There really are no separate business goals. This may sound strange at first but think about it. Why does the business exist, but to serve the desires (goals) of its customers? To the extent the business helps it’s customers/clients reach their goals, the customers will continue to spend money with the business.

Likewise, employees are with a specific business to fulfill their goals. Sure, making money and earning a living is a goal we all share, but why do people work at a specific place? It should be because the enjoy what they do, feel like they’re making a difference, and want to serve the customer/client. If your employee doesn’t match up with these, then they probably are on the wrong bus, or at least in the wrong seat (apologies Mr. Collins). In Firm of the Future, Paul Dunn talks about how all employees are volunteers, and in today’s economy, that really is true. Dunn compares the for-profit employment to non-profit organizations where our employees routinely go work very hard for something that they believe in, but for NO money. Great talent can work wherever and for whoever they want. To retain great talent, the business must give the employee an opportunity to reach their goals.

So ultimately, the success of the business depends on how well they line up the employee’s goals with those of its clients. This is simple, but not easy. I’m not suggesting that a business shouldn’t set goals, rather those goals should be a reflection of the employee’s and customer’s goals. In other words, if my clients achieve Y, and my team achieves X, then the business will achieve Z. I’ve made the mistake many times in the past of setting the business goals and then trying to shoehorn my team and clients into that vision. Fortunately, there are many tools becoming available that allow you to work on this alignment more efficiently.

One of the tools that we’ve implemented with great success is TinypulseTinypulse also allows employees to give “cheers” to any team member, giving them immediate gratification for a job well done. Lastly, there is a virtual suggestion box that allows team members to share public or private suggestions on improvement. What makes this tool really run is that the answers are anonymous (the cheers can be public or private). Every team member feels safe giving feedback, which makes the information both timely and useful.

What tools do you use for teamwork in your business?

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