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Navigating Your Team Through the Murky Waters

It’s easy to see clearly when swimming at the top of the ocean, with sunlight providing the clarity you need to navigate the first several feet of water. But the deeper you go, the murkier it gets. Guess what also gets murkier the deeper you go? 

The deeper you go into an organization, the murkier it can get without intentionally focusing on clarity. Uncertainty is always looming in today’s ever-changing world, especially for individual contributors. It’s important to create clarity around what you can control for your team to keep the waters clear. 

Why Clarity Drives Team Performance

Clarity–an environment where you continuously strive to understand and create alignment between the team’s people and tasks–is a critical aspect of excellence. Without it, your team won’t be a high-performing team. Helping your team move from chaos to clarity and providing this environment has many benefits. Read below to understand the importance of creating clarity for your team and why you should put in more effort to remove the ambiguity bubble they’re swimming in.

Individuals can evaluate their own responsibilities easily

When team members know their roles, they’re able to work efficiently. They are able to understand who is responsible for each task or project on the team, ultimately leading to a better flow of work. 

When team members are uncertain or have role ambiguity, it’s up to the leader to provide insight and clarify their roles and responsibilities. It’s also critical for you to promote transparency within the team; that way, if there is uncertainty, they can ask questions and are less likely to hesitate when they need clarification.

This type of transparency and communication will avoid the possibility of duplication of effort (when team members complete the same task), especially when overlapping responsibilities often happen with certain roles.

Individuals will build trust with one another and take risks

Trust is the foundation of every team. But it starts individually with each team member. When you establish accountability and responsibilities, that’s when they can really begin to understand each other’s strengths, open up, and feel safe with one another.

When you create this environment of clarity, you’re encouraging team members to build trust. You’re also encouraging them to take more risks within the guidelines you and the company have set. Part of this is to inspire your team to acknowledge and share their strengths, perceptions, and typical working style, which helps facilitate better collaboration.

In a 2022 survey we conducted, leaders were asked what the most detrimental leadership behavior was in the workplace. 43% of respondents reported that not creating clarity for their employees was the most detrimental. When responsibilities are clear and each employee feels trusted, your employees can execute with confidence when they have a sense of unity. Without providing complete clarity, you’re risking team failure. 

Teams have more alignment and focus

Alignment is when a team understands the company’s and team’s goals and how they specifically play a part in the big picture–and that’s what’s important here–the big picture. The point of a team is that they can work together towards a common goal that will benefit stakeholders, customers, and the organization as a whole. I challenge you to ask yourself two questions, “How am I setting clear goals for my team?” and “Do I have them rowing in the same direction?”

When teams are on the same page and have goals that are working towards the company’s overall mission, there’s no doubt that collaboration immediately improves. Team members can make informed decisions with more intention because they have a focus and their leader is steering them in the right direction. 

Teams are able to uncover projects and initiatives that they wouldn't naturally prioritize

It’s difficult for team members when initiatives are all over the place because they aren’t sure what to prioritize or end up prioritizing tasks that they should not be working on. These types of tasks aren’t helping them reach their overall goal. This is where team clarity is so important.

With it, you’re giving control to your team and allowing them to say no to low-priority work. They will be able to put more energy into higher priorities and find new projects because they have a new motive with clear objectives. Creating role clarity creates accountability. Everyone on the team knows what they should be working on and, ultimately, what they’re responsible for; therefore, they can prioritize their to-do list and realize when they are being pulled in the wrong direction. 

Giving your team the authority increases opportunity–the opportunity to be innovative, improve process efficiency, or maximize their strengths.

Continuously Work Towards Clarity

In the same 2022 survey mentioned above, leaders reported that clarity was challenging for teams to establish. Why? Because our world is complex, with many unknowns and constant changes always around the corner. 

So how can you create the clarity your team needs to adapt and excel?

Building high-performance teams in this day and age is essential, and clarity plays a significant role in doing just that. By establishing clarity from the leadership team down, you create the alignment between tasks and team members needed to achieve team and business goals.

But it shouldn’t stop there. Once established, you need to create it continuously. Clarity is something that can go away or become murky with change, especially if your team struggles with adaptability or resilience. It’s up to you to provide consistency through communication, processes, and expectations. Without this, clarity will disappear in an instant. It’s time to help your team members navigate the murky waters to get the crystal-clear vision they need to perform at their best.

Find out how Birkman’s High-Performing Teams program can help you establish clarity and continuously build on it. Your team will thank you. 

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