So, you’ve hired or promoted the right new leader
for your team. You’ve sat down with him or her and communicated your vision and strategic objectives. Now what? How do you help your new leader connect your strategic direction to the individual workers he or she manages? Our last post introduced the three Levels of Alignment.
Many new leaders walk into an environment of what we call Level 1 Alignment.
The company leadership team creates the vision of the organization during a weekend retreat and provides a management directive to all employees by:
• Sending an email to all employees
• Announcing it in the company newsletter
• Providing a laminated card for every employee
• Placing a plaque on the lobby wall
• Or, all of the above
And that’s supposed to create the impetus for every employee to align themselves and their actions with the vision. Does Level 1 Alignment work?
Here’s a question for you:
“What’s your company’s vision?”
If you would ask your receptionist, a loading dock worker, a bookkeeper, (fill in the blank) would they give the same answer? Would it surprise you to know that 60-70% of employees don’t know their company’s vision, let alone how to align their work efforts with it? How effective will a new leader be at aligning his or her people with your vision if dumped into that type of company culture?
What can you do to improve their efforts at alignment? Let’s learn more about Level 2 Alignment. Same scenario except that company leadership is looking to the VPs, execs, and department heads for assistance in driving down the vision. This gets the individual departments involved but might they have opposing views of that vision?
Let’s try out Level 2 alignment with a manufacturing company. Their new vision is to be “Number One in Customer and Employee Satisfaction.” Based on that vision, the VP of HR decides with her team to create state-of-the-art training programs for all equipment. The VP of Operations decides to upgrade their existing equipment without telling the VP of HR.
The VP of Customer Service will implement a new customer service strategy offering new and more frequent deliveries. The VP of Finance decides to adjust the budget to reduce equipment and delivery expenditures so they have enough capital to acquire a new facility.
Are the individual departments aligned with the vision? Yes, but what are the odds this organization is going to achieve that vision? Slim to none, in fact, they can probably expect lower earnings, unsatisfied/lost customers, and reduced market share.
Company leadership believes they’ve done well by involving all of their VPs in the alignment process. However, they ended up uncoordinated, misaligned, and functioning at cross-purposes.
Organizations must work toward getting all of their people pulling in the same direction. Level 3 embeds the alignment process within the culture of the organization.
The company leadership team:
• Establishes a Vision Statement – who or where you want your company to be in the future (about 3 years).
• Establishes a Mission Statement – what must be done in year one to move to achieve the vision.
• Creates Critical Success Factors – four to eight items necessary and sufficient to achieve the mission.
• Establishes Goals that are Necessary and Sufficient to Accomplish the Critical Success Factors.
• Offers a Specific Action Plan to Accomplish the Goals – WHO does WHAT by WHEN.
No matter the size of your organization, the strategic plan should be passed successfully from one level to the next until every person in the company is aligned with the vision.
Creating the framework for alignment is just the beginning. Providing new leaders with a Level 3 culture more often ensures success.
Every employee MUST:
• Understand their individual action steps to accomplish the vision.
• Be supported with the required resources.
• Have processes in place that ensure productivity, innovation, and speed.
Then and only then is the organization aligned and is truly in a position to succeed. You’ve created a winning team.