Team Alignment methodology
Have you heard that 7% of the communication process is verbal, and the rest is body language.
Jose Antonio Morales
Have you heard that 7% of the communication process is verbal, and the rest is body language and tone of voice? Just imagine if that 7% is not used correctly, the communication process could end up as a mess.
There is a person that didn’t get the meaning of the yellow lines there…
In this article, I’d like to focus on that 7%. Especially because we use language to construct our thoughts, I assume that improving the way I use language to think and to communicate with others will definitively increase my chances for achievement.
If I improve the way I use language and the others don’t, I might be making it harder for everyone else to understand me. Is it even possible to have everybody at the same level in terms of language?
As you can see, to communicate effectively, we need all the participants in the process to achieve some alignment. I want to share a method I’ve been using for a few years with positive results, but before that, I’d like you to imagine what happens if you and others are not in alignment in the following scenarios:
- Your team is in the negotiating table for a once in a lifetime business deal.
- You and some team members are pitching to get funding for your startup.
- As a good leader, you are explaining the harsh measures the company will have to take after the pandemic.
As you can see, all those scenarios have the potential to generate confusion and more. You can progressively decrease the unnecessary risks that result from ineffective communication. The following is a method you can use and adapt:
I am assuming that your team has some experience working together, and they are at least somehow familiar with their purpose as a team. To spot areas for improvement, do not try to talk with your team about purpose, mission, vision, or strategic objectives prior to the alignment practice.
- Divide your team at least in two groups.
- Request each group to identify ten words that they consider essential for their regular communication and for what they consider their field of action. Those words are the ones every team member needs to understand with clarity.
- As the groups discuss, remind them that they do not need to define the words just jet.
- Once the groups finish, they should present their list of words to the other groups for further comparison.
- Break down the groups, and now all the team must agree and select the top 5 essential words.
- Divide your team into at least two groups.
- Present them the above template (Image 1)
- In the first column, they should list the five words obtained on Part One.
- In the second column, they should write a similar word that usually can generate confusion. For example, Leader & Manager.
- Each group needs to agree on a short definition for each word. Note that this is not a competition on who is right; it is a practice to learn to craft original definitions for terms that matter.
- In the third column, they should write a phrase that summarizes the relationship between the two words in the same row. For example, “Leadership is about inspiring action and Management is about improving chances to succeed.”
- Every team should present to the rest of the team their five phrases and share what do they understand by them.
- Now the entire team is ready to select the best phrases and adopt them as a standard.
After the workshop is over, you can continue talking about purpose, vision, mission, and other strategic objectives. I’m sure you’ll experience a fantastic sense of agreement and understanding.
As your team evolves and change, the lists of essential words and definitions must be adapted. Repeating the alignment practice described above is a good idea.
Note that you can adapt the following method for personal alignment as well. Watch this video about Alignment and Life Purpose:
As you and I haven’t aligned our communication, I can only hope that the 7% of verbal communication we just exercised effectively conveys meaning and some practical ideas. If you need some support for setting it up for your organization, reach me out. If you’d like to participate in my Sense of Purpose online training course visit this page.
Originally published on medium.
Jose Antonio Morales