A few months ago we bought a new (to us) car. For the first few months everything seemed fine but eventually I began to notice that there was a slight tremor in the steering wheel, not always, just sometimes. My first hope was that if I ignored it the tremor would go away – or perhaps the whole thing was just in my imagination. But, the more I drove, the more it became obvious that there was a problem – not always, just at certain speeds.
If you’ve been around cars long enough you know that this means that something wasn’t lining up quite right and the problem could be something minor, like a tire out of balance, or something major, like a bent frame. When the wheels on the car don’t line up with the road properly it becomes difficult to steer, harder to stop, and it causes unnatural wear on different parts of the car. Over time, ignoring these problems can lead to huge repair bills.
As leaders we can experience similar problems with team members. When members of our teams don’t line up with where we are going it becomes difficult to move forward, harder to implement change, and can cause unnatural wear on other team members and the organization. These problems can be caused by something as small as not lining up with a decision we’ve made or as large as not lining up with the vision of the organization.
Two weeks ago I wrote that good teams fight. One of the reasons conflict can be a good thing is because it allows team members to be heard – which can lead to buy in. However, simply being heard doesn’t mean that they will automatically buy in to the decisions that are being made. For our ministry, home life or organization to be effective we need to help our teams support decisions not just verbally agree – we should strive for commitment or buy-in.
Committed teams will be aligned behind the goal and will develop clearer objectives and rolls. They communicate with one another about what they are working on and how that effort will contribute to the team. At the same time, they listen to one another’s ideas, learn from their mistakes and make better decisions faster.
If you are leading a team that struggles with commitment, go back to the post about conflict…make sure your team fights well. If they do, then you can begin to overcome the lack of commitment by:
- Summarizing and distributing decisions that are made in meetings
- Time-boxing (or limiting time on) decisions
- Clarifying worst-case scenarios
- Understanding the concept of blink (80% of the certainty of a decision comes within the first 20% of the data)
As the leader you need to look for ways to help your team members buy in to what is going on – simply achieving consensus is dangerous because those who were “over ruled” will be less committed. Additionally, your team needs your help to understand that we can’t always be certain of an outcome – but we can set a clear course of action.
Finally, one of the biggest problems that can slow you down and create a lack of buy in is FEAR. Good leaders understand that failure IS an option. It’s not one that we should strive for, but it is an option that we should be comfortable with because it provides us with an opportunity to learn.
If you are wondering, our car needed new shocks and with that quick fix we’re back to a smooth ride. Hopefully these tips will help get you and your team off to smoother rides as well.