Emotional Alignment

Alignment is a never-ending struggle in any team (of any size). It requires an incredible amount of time and work to not only create the starting block but also to maintain it.

It is, without question, a moving target that needs constant supervision and support — I think of it as a newborn baby that can be only be “left alone” for a very small amount of time (although you’ve already created a comprehensive “surveillance state”).

Alignment is a multi-faceted dynamic as it requires that you drill down into each particular part of the organization, the team, and even each individual so that you have the most data available when you start asking folks to start rowing.

Because, if you aren’t rowing in the same direction, you won’t survive.

But it’s one thing to be physically on the same boat and rowing in the same direction… and it’s entirely different when everyone on the boat understands the context in which they are rowing.

In other words, everyone understands why they are rowing so fucking hard right now.

I was sitting in an early-morning meeting with my engineering and product team and the last week was my attempt to emotionally align the team, besides ensure that code and design was being produced.

I had to make sure that everyone understood the full weight of what was happening — this wasn’t just us spending time on another product or moving resources from one project to the next; this was a fight for our fucking survival.

That context changes everything.

To do that, you have to, unfortunately, raise your voice a bit, allow the emotion to lightly (or liberally) color your speech, tone, and tenor of your voice so that folks understand that you’re not fucking around — this is it.

Now, we can row together, toward the same goal, knowing that it’s not just another waltz around the local park’s pond… but instead we’re on track to encounter Niagara Falls and we either have a working and survival “floatation device” or not.