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TEAM MISSION STATEMENTS

A team is not a team unless it knows why it's a team. Teams according to Jon Katzenbach* are "small groups of people with complementary skills committed to a common purpose, approach, and performance goals for which they hold themselves mutually accountable". The first thing that small group of people has to do is to establish that common purpose.

A team purpose is usually shaped in response to a request, opportunity or demand from management. If you ARE management, then your purpose as a team may be more urgent, more open-ended, and more difficult to capture. The parameters of a team purpose are usually framed by the performance requirement of the company. If you are a peanut-dicer maker, your team will likely have a mission statement that will enhance production, market or function of peanut-dicers. Pinpointing the mission is essential. Only then can every team member focus clearly.

Clear statement of purpose establishes the character, rationale and performance challenges for the team, but allows for creativity and 'wiggle room' for the team to set specific goals, timing and approach. Most teams do not spend sufficient time defining their purpose. It is somehow assumed that everyone knows it! Take, for example, the software development industry. They are known for the "Fire, Ready, Aim" approach to creating software. There is even a cartoon that shows a project manager telling his team, "You go upstairs and start writing code. I'll go and find out what they want it to do!" On a more serious note, research shows that much time, energy and money is saved in the technology industry by working groups and teams that take the time to explore and clarify their requirements. In fact, statistics suggest that spending at least 40% of the project time is efficient and effective! Compelling information, isn't it?

An example closer to home would be how you use goal-setting in your own life. Do you have a fuzzy goal such as "I want to be healthier"? Unless you know clearly that you want to have more energy, be stronger, more flexible and resilient, and cough less, you will not be focused enough to find solutions that match your goals. "I want to be healthier" is the impetus for creating the mission statement. In the same way, "We need more profit" is the impetus for creating the team. Then the team goes to work!

Sometimes a team mission statement is straightforward, for example, to recommend the best solution to a specific problem and little time is required for all to understand the mission. Team members can immediately develop their approach and performance goals. Other times, teams have a fuzzy idea about why they have been brought together and need to make delineating that the first order of business.

Teams run things, recommend things or make and do things. Every member needs to know the purpose of the team, and needs to be able to state it in twenty words or less. How is your team doing?

About the author: Rhoberta Shaler, PhD Keynotes, Seminars & Coaching for entrepreneurs & professionals who want the motivation & strategies to achieve, to lead and to live richly. Creator of the Living Richly' Program Host of Living Richly' on www.wsRadio.ws. Author of OPTIMIZE Your Day! Practical Wisdom for Optimal Living Optimize Life Now! San Diego, CA www.OptimizeLifeNow.com

Author: Rhoberta Shaler