A year ago, I started working as a writer in a content team of five.
If you’ve ever worked in small teams, you know they have one common problem: everyone has to do things they aren’t really trained to do. Even though my primary responsibilities included writing, for example, I also had to do editing, promotion, outreach, and a dozen other things.
I know many people don’t mind a lack of role clarity. Still, it could affect a team’s performance very quickly. My team was an example of this. In just a few months, the monthly traffic at our blog started to fall a bit, and we realised that something might be wrong with our article publishing process.
Quite unexpectedly, the technique that got things back to normal was a team-building exercise that our leader Adam has come up with: vision writing. For someone who writes most of the day, it just sounded like more work at the beginning, but it saved our blog’s performance.
Stay with me, and I’ll tell you how. Maybe my story will be helpful for your team whether large or small.
What was the problem?
Sometimes, the problems inside a team are a bit difficult to spot. In our case, our publishing process worked quite well, as most articles were published according to the editorial calendar. The traffic was nice, too.
So, if someone were to judge our teamwork by these two indicators, they would probably miss the real issue.
When I arrived at the company, I thought that as a writer (at least that’s how the position was advertised), I’d be responsible for, well, writing. But, as it turned out, the publishing process wasn’t clearly defined. So I often had to do things I didn’t know.
The examples were planning an email marketing strategy and doing technical SEO. Finding broken links, adding structured data, checking redirects – these are just a few things I was expected to do. Like my colleagues, I sometimes did my own little SEO experiments to improve content performance, only to find that no one could help with tracking the results.
So, we didn’t really have a person responsible solely for doing technical SEO on our blog.
With time, the chaotic publishing process and a lack of role clarity started to show. The motivation suffered, and uncertainty was a feeling we often experienced while doing our job.
Luckily, everything was about to change.
Team vision writing to the rescue
Each person in any team has a unique skill set and perspective on how to complete projects.
“If the roles in a team aren’t clearly defined, every project it takes on might face some challenges,” writes Diana Adjadj, an expert HR writer. “Without a clear role definition, the members of a team pull the project in different directions, thus affecting the performance.”
Our leader Adam spotted this. Although he was working in a leadership role for less than three years, he came up with a very interesting exercise: team vision writing.
One day, we held a team meeting where he outlined the problem, saying that we don’t have a strong shared vision and clear role definition. These issues led to a lack of a common sense of purpose and agreed-upon goals. Needless to say, employee engagement was low, and we weren’t committed to our collective future.
Read on to know what we did. Before that, though, let’s make one critical thing clear.
Is team vision writing the same as company vision?
No. It sounds like they’re really similar, though, right? After all, both strive to improve organization and provide direction. But, team vision writing is different. Here’s how:
|Team vision writing||Company vision writing|
|Outlines the goals and objectives within one team||Outlines the main goal of the entire organisation|
|Describes the roles and responsibilities of each team number||Defines the organisation’s reason for existing. Gives no details about the roles of individual employees.|
Now, let’s move on to the writing process!
Team vision writing process: 3 steps
To create a team vision of success, Adam started by asking how each of us saw an ideal vision of the publishing process. Unsurprisingly, the five of us had different answers.
In my opinion, for example, the writers had responsibilities that were outside our expertise. Instead of doing technical SEO, we should have been doing the kind of SEO we’re supposed to do (and leave it to someone who has better skills). The current arrangement was killing our motivation.
All of us agreed on one very important thing, though: our roles weren’t clearly defined.
To fix the problem, we took the following 3 steps during the meeting.
Step 1: Brainstorming
Adam started by asking a simple question: “Why do you think we are where we are right now?” Every content team member gave their feedback on how to improve, optimise, and streamline the publishing process (and other projects we did). The best suggestions were saved in a document.
How about large teams?
Brainstorming works best when everybody is involved. If your team is too big to cover everything in one discussion meeting:
- Send employee survey asking them their views on the team’s current challenges or issues
- Make a list of issues/challenges based on employee feedback (along with ideas and suggestions if the survey returns any)
- Create a meeting agenda with all important feedback
- Have a meeting to discuss the current team situation.
Step 2: Writing the draft for the vision
We summarised the most important goals in one great vision statement: “We work to make our blog a place where B2C marketers find practical knowledge, tools, and advice to flourish in their market with content.”
How about large teams?
Summarise the most important points from the meeting. Larger teams typically end up with a lot of ideas and suggestions, so try to narrow down on the most valuable ones.
Step 3: Writing the role definition document.
Apart from the vision, we wrote down the responsibilities of each team member. Also, the content publishing process, which was the most common project, was broken into specific stages with clearly defined owners and responsibilities.
How about large teams?
To cover all current and potential issues, ask each manager to define the roles of each team member in detail. If there’s a need to break down processes to streamline them, describe every step and have this information available to every employee. For example, you could do it with a dedicated notion page, “Our processes.”
But simply writing these down isn’t enough. The clarity of the vision and the role definition are paramount to avoiding misunderstandings along the way. And to monitor how satisfied we were with the changes, Adam sent a weekly employee engagement survey. In it, we gave our feedback on the changes, which he needed to empower us and keep the new processes going successfully. This was awesome and made us feel like we were in charge.
The change resulting from the team vision meeting was obvious the next day. Now, we clearly knew what we were responsible for – and for what we weren’t – so it was easier to work together. There was no confusion over our tasks, so we quickly got rid of the anxiety we felt earlier.
The vision document was really a starting point for more effective teamwork for us. We also felt that our participation in the vision writing meeting helped to empower us, as our leadership was fully committed to making the workplace better.
Should you write the vision with your team?
Absolutely. If you feel like your team is lacking cohesion, a clear common purpose, and needs better-defined roles, you should definitely try writing a team vision statement together. In our case, it worked beautifully, as it fixed the problem of waning motivation, a lack of shared vision, and widespread frustration.
Remember: when a team has a clear vision, it can be driven forward by a mutual, attainable goal, which the team itself has developed. This is what makes the team effective and promotes collaboration and even innovation.
Hopefully, this exercise will be helpful to solve similar challenges that your team, no matter how small or big, might be facing.
Author: Erica Sunarjo – Content Writer.