Management and Leadership Series Posted by Nicola Maxwell

Let’s just do a quick audit….

  • Does your organisation have a strategy in place?
  • Have you taken that strategy and communicated it to your direct reports, clearly and specifically?
  • Have you aligned the personal development objectives of those direct reports back to that strategy so that they deliver the business goals at their functional level?
  • Have your direct reports cascaded it down to the level below and aligned their personal objectives back to their functional strategy to make sure their departments deliver those goals, and your organisational goals?
  • Has this happened at every level of your organisation, and can the people at the lowest level tell you the key strategic goals?

Have you answered yes to everything so far?  If you can honestly say yes, well done, because you have done what very few organisations manage – created true alignment!

I’m sure a few of you won’t have answered yes to everything. A few of you will be very frustrated as you know you have a fantastic organisational strategy, yet when you ask your people on the ground what their aims and objectives are – they don’t know.

So let’s look at what we can do to improve communication of strategy and alignment of goals within your organisation.

There are five key steps that you need to put in place to ensure you have aligned your vision with your actions. These will allow you to gain clarity, create alignment and start making a difference to changing your business.

Start with why

Basically does everyone in your business know why they are doing what they are doing? Are they all pulling in the same direction?

Get your teams together and talk about why you are really there, and what you should be doing. Create a team vision and purpose that captivates your team, and above all, tell people about this clearly, simply and with passion across every level of your organisation!

Right skills in place?

Look at the people in your business and make sure that you really do an honest appraisal of who you have and what they are capable of doing and actually delivering.

Are people playing to their strengths wherever possible? According to research done by Gallup*, playing to strengths makes us 12.5% more productive. Consider who has future potential and could be developed to deliver more. Who will drive your business and make it great and who just doesn’t care?

Do they want to be there and are they doing the right things? If they’re not, do something about it.

Create the resource

What do you actually need in your business to get the job done? Do you have the right resources for your people so that they are able to do what you are asking them to do? By resources I mean:

  • Time: are you prioritising effectively so you do a few things really well, rather than achieving “ok” in many areas?
  • Money: are you spending your money in the right areas to allow you to deliver the right goals? If not, change your focus.
  • Technology: Have your people got the right technology to do their job? Can they work when they need to work, easily – are you providing flexibility and removing the barriers?

Engage your people

Do your people care about your goals as much as you do? Are they your biggest advocates, supporting their managers and leaders, and driving your culture and vision? If not what do you need to do to get them on board?

Putting a stronger focus on allowing people to play to their strengths doubles the level of employee engagement so think about how you can engage your staff in this way. The most engaged individuals also say their leaders act as role models to demonstrate core values and principles and that they communicate honestly. They also feel appreciated and recognised for the work they do and are given regular and specific feedback on their performance. Are you doing this? If not, why not?

Make the action plan happen

Do you have measures and outcomes in place for your action plan, or is it just a list of tasks? How will you know when you have achieved your goals? SMART as a goal-setting tool still exists because it works, so don’t be complacent, follow the SMART system!

And ensure that when you have an action plan, you communicate it, check it regularly, and review it on a monthly and quarterly basis. It’s no good in the drawer, or in a folder on the network; you have to make it a live document that you use daily, get tea stains on, and scribble notes over! That way you own it, use it and make it happen.

Finally, you need to keep repeating these 5 steps, with clarity, commitment and consistency in everything you do; in corporate documents, at conferences, during team meetings, huddles, one-to-one meetings or by the coffee machine. The more you live and breathe these 5 steps, the more chance you have of creating real alignment.

* ‘How Employees’ Strengths Make Your Company Stronger’ by Susan Sorenson (2014)

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