Is this the inner voice you hear every day when you walk into the office? Why is it always business as usual?
You’ve shared your long term objectives for the organization multiple times. Your senior team agrees with you and you think things will change. But when they walk out of those meetings, everyone just goes back to doing business as usual.
What’s the problem? Why don’t they get it?
One thing you can do is to set clear expectations and then reinforce them as often as possible - at every one-on-one, at every staff meeting, in memos, and in emails to your senior team.
Another is to get clarity from your senior team every time you meet about what is expected from them not just today, but over the next month, quarter and year.
Meet one on one with your senior team and ask each one to verbalize what they think the long term objectives are.
Discuss them, correct them if necessary, and then ask them to provide you with a statement or a list of 3-to-5 things their department can do to support those objectives over the next year.
It’s not enough to tell them what your vision is for the organization.
They need to own it themselves. They need to understand how changing the way they work and the projects they pursue will actually help you and them achieve this long term vision.
First you need to get your senor staff in a room and go through a process of creating a shared vision of what the organization will look, smell, sound and feel like 3-to-5 years down the road.
Once you have a shared vision, you need to focus on creating stretch goals that will help you achieve that vision.
These are your targets to shoot for. They tell you whether or not you have achieved your vision and/or are on your way to getting there.
Again, work with your senior staff to have them identify the 3-to-5 goals they can each commit to. Share those in a group meeting and discuss how they might be combined and roll up into 3-to-5 major goals for the organization as a whole.
Having a shared vision and a set of three-to-five stretch goals is good, but if you can’t all agree on who your ideal customer is, you have another problem.
It doesn’t help to have marketing pursue advertising and promotional projects targeting one type of customer while sales is going after another. And customer service, operations, and finance are trying to figure out how to support both.
Everyone needs to be on the same page about who your best customers are, what their needs are, and which products or services you have or can create in order to satisfy those needs.
To accomplish these steps, though, you need to have an internal culture of inclusion.
You need to create a culture that says it’s OK to ask questions, it’s OK to take risks, and it’s OK to fail. This is a big challenge if your culture is just the opposite.
At WD40, for example, Garry Ridge has set up a culture of “learning moments”. Every time someone fails to achieve the expected results, whether it’s a big or a small failure, he asks them to consider what was learned from that experience.
Instead of berating the person for making a mistake, they’re given the opportunity for introspection to figure out what went wrong.
Have you honestly looked at your organizational strengths and weaknesses? These are the people, processes, and systems in your organization which make it run well or poorly.
Knowing who these key players are in your organization makes it possible for you to design incentives and training programs to help them excel and grow in their jobs. Taking stock of your systems and processes lets you identify areas for improvement.
You may even find that you have to offer a few weak links the opportunity to pursue work elsewhere. If you don’t, and they have poor attitudes, they can drag the entire organization down.
Have you looked outside your organization lately to explore future trends? There are seven key areas every organization should explore at least twice a year. Depending on your industry, and how quickly things change, you may need to do this monthly.
By staying on top of these changes, and preparing what-if scenarios of actions you can quickly take should any of those changes occur, you build change and agility into your processes.
Remember when you met with your executive team to identify those stretch goals as well as systems and processes that may need changing?
After everyone listed their 3-to-5 goals, did you see some common themes and list these on a sheet of paper? These become your overarching long term strategies (also called key initiatives).
These key initiatives are the strategies everyone needs to focus on over the next 3-to-5 years. They are based on future changes that might occur in your external market area, as well as strategies that need to be implemented in order to achieve the organization's future vision.
In many organizations, each department has to submit a yearly operational plan during the budget season. This identifies the specific projects and programs each department will pursue and the budget needed to accomplish those over the next fiscal year.
If those department plans aren’t in alignment with the overall organizational initiatives, however, then you could be wasting money.
It may be interesting to have the product development team work on a sexy new product, but if it isn’t something your ideal customer wants to buy, is it really worth the investment? Are you diverting resources away from high performing products in order to support the new product under development?
This is a key area often overlooked.
Each person’s performance should be evaluated on their contribution to the overall organizational initiatives, not just how well they accomplished specific tasks they were assigned.
Use the organizational initiatives as the key performance metrics for each person. Then for each person, re-write the job description so it supports at least two of those initiatives.