There are staff teams that share the same space, have their bios listed on the same website, and park in the same parking lots but are not aligned around the same mission and values. An unaligned team shows up to the same place with different agendas. They share the same office space but pull in different directions. An aligned team is very different. They are deeply committed to the same mission and rally around the same values. An aligned team inevitably makes a bigger impact, as their focus is sharp and their shared commitment encourages one another. So how can leaders work to increase the alignment on the teams they lead?
1. Emphasize values when hiring.
When you emphasize values in hiring, you attract those who already hold to the same values. And you enable those who would not be a fit to opt out.
In my role at LifeWay Christian Resources, I am responsible for leading the Resources division. I meet with most people who are being hired onto our team for one last interview. The person has met with many other leaders before our meeting so in this interview I am looking for two things: (1) Has our team properly and passionately shared our values with this candidate? (2) Does this person already believe in the values we hold to? A big part of the “final interview” is my checking our interview process. If our values are crystal clear, I believe we will attract the right people and repel those who should not be on our team. I also walk through our values with the person and ask for commitment to them.
2. Frame training around your values.
For alignment to be driven into a culture, values must be seen more than on a wall. They must show up in regular conversations and in training. By framing the training you provide your team around the values, you show how the values are fleshed out in daily work. So when you gather with your staff for times of development, choose a value to provide tangible training around.
3. Celebrate living examples.
Vision is best caught via people, not via paper. By telling stories of how the values are lived out, people can see tangible examples of how the values inform work. As an example, in our quarterly division meetings—we give an award for each value and tell stories that show how the values are being lived out.
When you push for alignment you make it increasingly uncomfortable for people who aren’t committed to the values. And increasingly life-giving for those who are passionate about what the team is passionate about.