The Essentials of Teamwork Series, #11: Reclarify the Shared, Meaningful Purpose and Goals

Thoughts on Excellence Free E-Newsletter Series
Volume 19, Issue No. 7a
November 1, 2020

By Dan Coughlin


Team members get busy.

They get busy executing the tactical items in the plan. They get busy working with customers and suppliers. They get busy checking up to make sure that what they delivered actually arrived. They get busy trying to get better. They get busy trying to stay in good physical condition. They get busy trying to be good spouses, parents, children, siblings, and friends.

And in the midst of all this busyness they can forget. They can forget why they are a part of a particular group. They can forget what the group is trying to achieve or why that objective is so important.

And then in their busyness the group members can begin to splinter off into subgroups and cliques. And then in their busyness the group members can start to focus on what bothers them in other people. And then in their busyness the group members can stop supporting each other and start attacking each other.

And in what seems like the blink of an eye, the group that was once a really good team is now a collection of really unhappy individuals who invest an incredible amount of time tearing each other down.

These are the same good people who once formed a formidable team, and now they can barely talk to each other.

What in the world went so wrong?

There Needs to be a Clear, Strong, Shared, Meaningful Purpose with Important Goals

Let’s deal with reality. People are busy. For a group of people to come together and sincerely support each other’s efforts they have to have a very important reason to do it. They have to believe in the purpose of the group.

A great purpose galvanizes people to stay together even when they get into little squabbles. People have choices as to what to do with their time. They have choices as to where to work, what volunteer commitments they make, and what family responsibilities they will fulfill. For you to get a group of individuals to really pull together and support one another, they have to be totally clear about WHY this effort is going to be worth it.

There is nothing more important in building a team than continually reclarifying the purpose of the team. All of the activities are important to do, but they will lose their momentum and focus if the group loses sight of the WHY.

Please write down your answers to these questions:

  • Why does our team exist?
  • What purpose are we trying fulfill?
  • What 2 or 3 critically important goals are we trying to achieve?

Write down your answers over and over and over until you have a crystal clear purpose and important goals that people can rally around and get excited about. This is what keeps people going and staying committed to each other.

Take your time to get your answers the way you want them. Involve your team members in the process of reclarifying the shared, meaningful purpose and key goals that they want to fulfill and achieve.

And then communicate them over and over and over again. Help people to remember why they want to stay committed to this team.

Republishing Articles

My newsletters, Thoughts on Excellence, have been republished in approximately 40 trade magazines, on-line publications, and internal publications for businesses, universities, and not-for-profit organizations over the past 20+ years. If you would like to republish all or part of my monthly articles, please send me an e-mail at with the name of the article you want in the subject heading. I will send you the article in a word document.

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