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“Look into My Crystal Ball …”

 
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We know what image comes to mind with that statement …
the carnival gypsy with the long fingernails, compelling stare, and breathy voice. While a visit to your friendly neighborhood fortuneteller might yield some interesting information, it might be more effective for you to design your own future.

The start of a new year is always a great time to reflect back and plan forward. Here are some great questions to springboard your thinking. Remember: you're more likely to achieve something if you plan for it and write it down, so ... get your pens ready! Here goes:


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How Leaders Learn to Align, Part 2

 
consulting teams

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.

 




















































How Leaders Learn to Align, Part 1

 
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If there’s an open leadership position in your company, you probably spend a lot of time agonizing over which seemingly good candidate will be best suited for the role … you pour over notes from multiple interviews, evaluate reviews if you’re promoting from within, and decipher every detail contained in each candidate’s DISC or Myers Briggs behavioral profile.

After much nail biting and loss of sleep, you finally settle on your number one pick, the prime candidate for the position. Offer made. Job accepted. Sigh of relief.

Fast forward six months … now the thought keeping you awake is, “Why in the world did I think he could be a leader? His team is always off doing their own thing and working totally out of concert with my strategic vision.”

One of the most compelling reasons why new leaders fail to lead is the fact that their environment doesn’t ALLOW them to lead.

Do your leaders have knowledge of all of the initiatives important to you from their first day in their new job? Do they know the strategic direction you set in your latest iteration of the company plan? We’re sure they do. You vetted them in all of the ways necessary to determine if they could lead and once you decided they could, you immediately shared all of the necessary, nitty-gritty strategic details of your plan, right?

We’re guessing not. It takes awhile for newly indoctrinated leaders to earn your trust. You need to decide if they can handle all of those nitty-gritty details before you share them. Makes logical good sense, doesn’t it?

Think about this for a second. If the execution of those strategic plans is integral to the success of your organization, why are you setting your leaders up to fail by not allowing them to lead to exactly where you want them to go?

As soon as you onboard a new leader, it’s the right time to communicate that clear strategic direction for your company and allow your leaders to link that knowledge to your operating systems to ensure achieving your desired results.

Ready to get started?

The first step for a new leader should be for them to create alignment between the goals of the individual workers and the overall vision of the company. When that happens, positive results are more likely to occur.

In our experience, organizations achieve alignment in three ways. We’ll refer to them as Levels of Alignment.

Level 1 – Set the Vision, General Communication to the Masses, Expect Action
Level 2 – Set the Vision, Have Leadership Communicate to their Own Masses, Wait for Action
Level 3 – Set the Vision, Communicate Individual Critical Success Factors to the Masses, Set Measurements and Evaluate the Action

What are your general impressions of the efficacy of these three Levels of Alignment?

Our next post will go into more detail on all three Levels and help you to rank them from least effective to most effective.

 





























One Question About Gratitude

 
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Tomorrow we here in the U.S. will be celebrating
Thanksgiving, and our thoughts have turned to gratitude and appreciation. Yes, it’s important to be thankful and express gratitude. We recommend you stop and ask yourself the question, “For what am I thankful?” often, daily if at all possible.

We decided to put a different spin on it and asked our network of successful consultants and coaches this question:


Four MORE Easy Business Measurements to Help Your Clients Know the Score

 
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In our LAST POST, we explored use of the four Balanced
Scorecard measurement categories highlighted in the book by Drs. Robert Kaplan and David Norton. It references these four general areas:

  • Financial
  • Management
  • Customers
  • Growth

We used these as a springboard to ask business owners questions to get them thinking of the critical few measurements to which they should be accountable rather than the trivial many items that demand their attention every day which can turn a business owner into an operator. While general questioning is effective, let’s get into a deeper conversation.


Four Easy Business Measurements to Help Your Clients Know the Score

 
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What are the most common measurements to
which business owners should be held accountable? Drs. Robert Kaplan and David Norton answered that question by creating a system of measurement highlighted in their book, The Balanced Scorecard. It references four general areas: 

  • Financial
  • Management
  • Customers
  • Growth

Easy, right? Every business owner should be able to generate and track specific measurements around each of these simple categories. In the collective experience of our successful network of consultants and coaches, this is not always the case


Your Mind … Are You Really in Control? Two Simple Tests

 
mindcontrol

Your mind is a strange and powerful entity.
With it you can create totally new circumstances
for yourself and even for those around you. While you cannot change what happens to you in life, you CAN change how you react to what happens. And those reactions can influence both immediate and long-term outcomes.

A really scary and interesting tidbit about your mind is how much of your day it’s totally out of control. Now we’re not talking about the times it’s annoyingly repeating the lyrics and tune of the last song you hear on the radio and it’s doing that so loudly you literally stamp your foot in frustration … we’re talking about the times you don’t really know what it’s doing.



Customer Loyalty Without Employee Loyalty? Not Happening, Part 2

 
customer loyalty

Our last post "Customer Loyalty Without Employee Loyalty"
discussed a method for you to determine your organization’s Employee Loyalty Score. This ELS score raises another interesting question, “What does one disgruntled employee cost you?”

There are many criteria involved in determining how much it costs to lose an employee. Here are some of the considerations:


Customer Loyalty Without Employee Loyalty? Not Happening

 
customer loyalty

If developing and measuring customer loyalty is a
strategic initiative for your organization, don’t overlook the impact that each employee has on the entire loyalty process. It is very difficult for an organization to have loyal customers if they don’t have loyal employees.

Are your employees:


The 5 Do’s and Don’ts of Asking Questions

 
consulting practice

Our network of successful consultants
and coaches ask questions constantly.
Our experience with them for the last 35+ years has helped us to create this list of the 5 most critical Do’s and Don’ts of asking questions.

Let's start with the Don'ts. 



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