Explain the importance of the team having a common sense of

I work for ReAssure as a Technical Services Manager and head up the Unix and Linux team. ReAssure is a life and pensions company which buys and administers closed books of business from other companies. We have over 2.3 million policies on our books, and look after investments of over 44 billion for our customers. The acquired polices reside on the infrastructure that my team manage, which makes us a very important part of the organisation.

Thus it becomes very important for me to ensure that the team have a common sense of purpose which supports the overall vision and strategy of the organisation.

Before going any further, let’s explore our understanding of the terms Mission statement, Vision statement and Strategy.

Mission statement define the organisation’s purpose and primary objectives. These statements are set in the present tense, and they explain why you exist as a business, both to members of the organisation and the general public. Mission statements tend to be short, clear and powerful.

A mission supports the overall vision.

Vision statement is used to describe the future state of the organisation i.e., what the organisation hopes to become in the future. It is, therefore, a long-term goal which provides direction for the organisation. It also communicates the purpose of the organisation to the employees and other stakeholders and provides them with the inspiration to achieve that purpose.

Strategy is the roadmap of how the organisation will move forward to achieve the vision and mission. The vision and mission statements are important tools of strategic planning, as they help to shape the strategy that will be used by an organisation to achieve the desired future.

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Once you have defined the organisation’s Vision, Mission and strategy, you must communicate, with clarity, who you are, where you’re going and how you’re going to get there to the rest of the organisation in order to create a common sense of purpose. If your employees know nothing about this, then having a defined Vision, Mission or Strategy are of no value.

Engagement and Alignment: ILM Level 3 Award in Leadership & Management course material

Clarity and alignment – A strategy can only be communicated effectively if it is first clearly and explicitly defined. The strategy should be aligned with both its’ vision, mission statement and core values. Attainable and measurable objectives and action plans should be set throughout the strategic planning process.

Engagement of employees – When employees are engaged in the strategic planning process, they become energised. Employees should be empowered to voice their opinions in a safe environment and be able to communicate at every stage of the process. Also, as strategy changes all the time, continuous engagement ensures that employees are always up-to-date.

Reinforcement of strategy – Leaders within the company should keep on educating and inspiring employees with the strategy.

ReAssure’ Vision is to be the leading life and pension’s consolidator in the UK market.

ReAssure uses an internal share site as a means to communicate the common sense of purpose. The share site provides an overview of our Strategic Goals and One Team Goals, Business Objectives, Operating Principles and our Business Priorities. This gets broken down further into departmental and individual objectives. Everyone in the organisation follows a yearly performance management process where SMART objectives are set and revisited to ensure that they are still valid and aligned to the common sense of purpose. At ReAssure we also have regular road shows where the common sense of purpose is reinforced. In addition, we have market stalls throughout the event where employees get the opportunity to get further clarification of the common sense of purpose and get an understanding of how they are aligned to it.

Below is a diagram that illustrates how ReAssure communicates the common sense of purpose.

Common purpose occurs, Kurtzman says, “when a leader coalesces a group, team, or community into a creative, dynamic, brave and nearly invincible we.” Too many organisations, he points out, develop company values and purpose but don’t use them in decision making, so they exist on paper, or on a web site, but don’t become a daily way of creating and reinforcing a shared culture, a sense of “we.”

We are quite fortunate, in that Reassure as a company understands the value and acknowledges how vital it is for their continued success in investing the time in ensuring all employees understand the common sense of purpose. Quote from the Reassure Strategy in Action share site; “Without your continued contributions we would not be able to achieve our strategy so it is important that we all understand our strategic priorities and how these drive our team and personal objectives”

A shared sense of purpose is important in many ways. Below are some examples of the advantages of when you are aligned and equally the disadvantages of when you are misaligned to the common sense of purpose.

Influence decision making – Having a common sense of purpose plays a great part in decision making. For my team, knowing the business priorities helps us understand the investments required to make at infrastructure level. We know well in advance of the new acquisitions which helps us in capacity and performance management of the systems. We can look into solutions that will be suitable to cater for the new workloads which in the long run can prove to be quite cost effective, this has an overall impact on the level of customer service that we provide as a company to the end user.

On the other hand when a common sense of purpose is not communicated well it makes decision making difficult and can influence in making the wrong decisions which can be quite costly. For my team, not knowing what the expected and agreed uptime of services is can make decision making difficult. The disaster recovery solution could end up either not meeting all the agreements and implementing a solution that is not fit for purpose or implementing a very expensive solution that caters for 24×7 uptime which is not required. Not having a clear sense of purpose will often lead us to continually be in a reactive state instead of proactive.

Business Value – Sharing the common sense of purpose effectively across the organisation provides a sense of not only belonging but also employee motivation and satisfaction. In my team we link the team and individual objectives to the business objectives, This way we understand the value to the overall strategy, but also makes us aware of the negative impact of not meeting the objective.

An example of where the common sense of purpose that was not shared with my team could have resulted in unpleasant consequences. This was an objective to migrate our servers from one Data Centre to another Data Centre. However, in this case the deadline was somewhat unrealistic and when challenged no one I spoke to, including the project manager knew the impact of not meeting the unrealistic deadline. As a team we continued to do what we could, however, we soon ran into problems which meant there were further delays which resulted in threatening the very tight deadline further. Senior management was least pleased. I then made it my mission to find out the impact of missing the deadline and realised that the cost implication was going to be really high in extending the hired kit for the project. I shared this knowledge with the team and together that motivated us to achieve what was initially thought impossible. I saw so much commitment from my team in delivery of this project, they offered to do extra overtime and changed personal commitment to see the project over the line.

Create good team work – A transparent common sense of purpose within the organisation also plays an integral part within the smaller teams. It helps to understand the common goals and their peers better. It encourages the staff to work as one and to share skills across the team. I was hired to manage a team that hadn’t been managed for at least 2 years if not longer. The team had no sense of belonging and within the team of 7 they worked in silo’s, they did what they felt needed to be done in the short term with no overall long term clear vision. There was no unity amongst, no shared documented processes and both productivity and team morale was at a low. Motivation was nowhere to be seen.

One of the first things I put in place almost immediately were to understand the individual and to gauge their understanding of where they were regarding the common sense of purpose.

I put in place meaningful objectives that linked them back to the overall common sense of purpose. This got the team working in collaboration. It provided them with a context within which they understood their role and how their contributions played a part in that team. They worked towards achieving their objectives and the result of that was a much improved impact on productivity. Naturally, the team felt motivated as they could see the impact of their work and the value they added to the overall common sense of purpose. This example takes me straight onto the advantage below.

Empowerment – In a workplace of empowerment, management and employees work together. You appreciate each other’s intelligence and responsibility. Together as a team you have the power to help the company succeed. Creating empowerment gives a company the benefit of tapping into the potential of employees in the workplace to unleash their power of information and expertise. With an effectively shared common sense of purpose within an organisation, as a manager I have the confidence in believing in my team to take the correct actions. I am in a better a position to empower my team as we know everyone is working towards that one common purpose. It enabes me to create an environment that values and trusts their actions and approach to work independently.

Once I understood the dynamics of my team, we put together a list of all the issues and the improvements they wanted to see. Listening to them and valuing their feedback and opinion made them feel empowered. I took the time to communicate with my team openly and honestly on confidential matters which helped break the barrier of levels of status between management and employees. Trusting them to own the problem and come up with a viable solution empowered them to make the correct decisions in alignment to the common sense of purpose. There are serveral advanges of empowered staff, to mention a few, noticeable decrease in absenteeism, employee turnover is reduced, increase productivity and efficiency and recognition as valued members by the wider teams.

To summarise, a shared sense of purpose is important as it unites employees working in an organisation. Creating a common-purpose organisation means putting your organisational goals at the center of the community. A smart incentive system coupled with a clear understanding of your community’s roles and a well-defined shared purpose can transform entire organisation from within, to make them more agile, successful and competitive in today’s market. It’s the shared purpose that creates a ‘we’ within a company – this same ‘we’ becomes the engine that propels the business forward.


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Explain the importance of the team having a common sense of
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