Purpose, Passion and a Plan - How to build a great sustainability team

Ciaran Armstrong

Sustainability Professional | Facilitator
Sustainable Business
Oct 6, 2021
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Are you trying to build a team to drive your internal sustainability initiatives? Here are 3 tips from our experience that will enable you to create a team powered by purpose, passion, and a plan of action.

1 - Purpose: What’s your purpose as a team?

Depending on the size of your company, there are likely to be small social clusters that are passionate, engaged, and already taking action to make the company more sustainable. However, without an overarching mission and coordination, these efforts will likely remain peripheral and fail to transform the company.

Bring your team together and define your overarching purpose or mission statement. For example, why do you exist as a team? What are you trying to achieve? What’s your mission? This is your moonshot; try to make your overarching purpose Specific, Measurable, Ambitious, Results-orientated and Time-bound (let's call it SMART 2.0).

With your purpose defined, you can start setting more specific goals and objectives that fall into the overarching purpose and are aligned with your plan (see point 3). Spending time in this phase will ensure everyone is on the same page and working towards the one mission.

2 - Passion: Who is passionate about sustainability?

Instead, find and recruit team members who have a passion for sustainability. Ideally, you’ll want people to have skills and expertise that will help. But not all of them need to. If they are passionate and eager, they will learn. Ultimately these team members will be internally motivated. They want to see the company transform, but that won’t be their only driver (e.g., other drivers might be the fact we're in a climate crisis).

One tip for seeing who is passionate is to run your first sustainability team meeting on a weekend. Those really committed will be there.

3 - Plan: What’s your sustainability action plan?

Anyway. Develop a plan for implementing and tracking progress towards your sustainability goals. If you aren’t at this stage, a place to start would be doing an Impact Assessment. This will give you a good overview of where you are as a company, what you’re doing well and where you need to prioritise action. In many ways, this becomes the foundation of your sustainability plan. Get early access to our sustainability compass if you're looking for a guide to help you.

So you’ve got a plan, and you’ve got a team. As you progress and take action, communicate that with the rest of the company. Shout about it, and share what you are doing. Show people (especially the sceptics) that changes are happening. This will slowly but surely, begin to peak the interest of those who were ‘kinda keen’ but didn’t want to commit at first fully.

This is where we begin to see social shifts within the company, it starts on the outskirts with the passionate people, and slowly, slowly, then quickly, it moves through the company. Want to find out more about how change spreads? Watch network theory expert Damon Centola explain it in more detail here.

Tip ⚡️ Communicate regularly using platforms like Slack and Notion to ensure you stay on the same wavelength with your team.