My previous post expanded on the concept of Identity with individuals. This post will define Identity for teams and organizations, why it is important, and what can be done to strengthen and leverage it. I think is important to establish that we are not directly referring to Identity as the extent to which employees identify with their organization(s), although it is a related concept.
At Higher Up Consulting, we consider Identity for teams and organizations from two perspectives: 1) the collective individual characteristics of your members 2) the characteristics of the team or organization as a whole. Identity is broken down into three elements:
Ability: The collective strengths and opportunities represented in a team or organization relative to what needs to be accomplished. Understanding your team’s/organization’s capabilities can support talent planning and development.
Motivation: I like to think of this as the willingness of employees to exert effort/energy on behalf of the team and organization. Employee engagement is an optimal expression of this within teams and organizations.
The Whole: The whole tends to be greater than sum of its parts and it is helpful to ensure a collective understanding of the team/organization identity. This includes concepts such as the culture, climate, and values of an organization, and may also refer to the external Identity such as reputation and branding.
Benefits of a Clear Team/Organization Identity
Employee Engagement: Employees who identify with their teams and organizations are more likely to exert discretionary effort toward accomplishing team/organizational goals. Additionally, employees are more engaged when their roles are a great fit for their abilities and interests.
Performance: There are several ways that team/organizational Identity may contribute to success. For example, understanding the strengths/weaknesses of your employees can help ensure employees are in the right roles. It also helps organizations focus developmental resources where they are most impactful by addressing key weaknesses and/or supporting development of future leaders.
Leadership: Teams and organizations with a shared understanding of their organization’s identity are better equipped to ensure alignment between their work and the organization’s goals and help employees understand how they contribute.
What can you do to improve and leverage team/organization Identity?
Solicit feedback: Surveys can be a great way to determine how well organization members understand their team/organization identity or to solicit their input on defining or recalibrating Identity.
Define Vision/Mission/Values: Organizations should spend time reflecting on who they are as it relates to what they want to accomplish. This process can help clarify what’s important and support organizational members’ ability to identify with their teams/organizations.
Talent Management/Succession Planning: These processes help leaders understand the strengths and weaknesses that exist within their teams. Such knowledge is helpful towards effective hiring/promotion decisions as well as employee development planning.
Communicate: Share your organization’s vision, mission, and values with employees. Stories are a great vehicle for reinforcing an organization’s culture and important organizational behaviors.
Gap analysis: Explore the difference between current capabilities and those needed for success now and in the future. This process can identify training/development needs and guide talent/succession planning among other things.
Contact us to learn more about how to strengthen and leverage your organization’s Identity. Also, look forward to our next blog about the topic of Purpose.