Recession Proofing Part 4 - Align Everything!Jan 23, 2023
Assess - Equip - Align
In this 5 part series on "Recession Proofing Your Organization", we have explored:
- The people factor and the opportunity focus
- Assessing to get good data and insights
- Turning data into action through a Success Pathway
Now we turn our focus to aligning everything. What does that mean? Now that we have created a Success Pathway, a plan of action to equip ourselves and others, it is time to ensure that everything is aligned with the direction and plan. That can only happen by design. Entropy (a gradual decline into disorder) is the natural state of things.That is why alignment is an action verb. It takes energy, effort, and focus to align the various elements with our action steps to reach the success we desire.
A few years ago I was partnering with an organization on a culture change project. This is one of those types of projects where you have to "peel the layers of the onion" to gain the insight needed. We used a variety of psychometric assessments, interviews, observations of work days for different roles, and focus groups to better understand where the culture was then and what needed to change. In that process, we asked one interview question that I remember to this day. Not because of the question itself, but because of the answers we received. Here is the statement that people were to respond to:
Performance standards are clearly defined.
Here are the comments to that statement:
- Sure, we talk about stuff all the time.
- Sometimes, but I think we need more clarity.
- Absolutely! I never have a doubt what I need to do.
- Depends on the day, standards change frequently.
- Better training is needed.
- What do you mean by performance standards?
- Answers are hard to come by.
- My manager is terrible at this.
As you can see, the responses are all over the place. This is a great example of what alignment is NOT! But it did give us excellent insight into a key area that needed change. Think of how these employees were going through their day with little visibility into how their performance was being measured. Think of the possibility for favoritism when there is no clearly understood standard of performance. These are the engagement/energy/motivation drainers present in many organizations.
To help me stay focused on what is important when working on alignment, I have created an acronym using each letter in the word, align.
Asset - the specific resource/practice/effort
Leverage - the impact the asset can have
Integrate - into the success pathway (the overall plan for success)
Generate - useful results and value
Navigate - for better outcomes
If I were to put this into a sentence, it would be: What assets can we leverage and integrate into a clear success pathway to generate the results and value we desire allowing us to navigate challenges and opportunities for better outcomes. That is what I mean when I talk about aligning everything.
When you take this approach, the alignment process becomes more focused. The key is to ensure that you have a clear Success Pathway (a plan to achieve the success desired), then align everything to that.
If it becomes difficult to align something to the Success Pathway, then question whether it is something deserving of the time, energy, resources, and focus.
Have you ever taken on a home improvement project? Full disclosure, I avoid these as much as possible. But I remember a time when I decided to put new carpet down in a room. I actually got the carpet for free, which was a real blessing! Better yet, the carpet came in squares. How can you possible go wrong with that! The carpet was easy to put in place. The colors were a random mix (or so I thought at the time). So I began my project happily gluing the carpet in place as I went. Boy was I saving time and effort! I spent most of a day working on this project. Then something happened. The sun started to come in through the window in late afternoon. To my shock and surprise, there was a pattern in the carpet squares I had not seen before. It became so apparent when I stood back and looked at my handiwork. Alignment. You can probably guess what happened next. All of the time and effort, and even some of the carpet was wasted because of an alignment issue. I thought I knew what I was doing. It seemed right as I went along. And then reality hit me in the face. All of my planning, resources, effort, time was wasted due to a lack of alignment. I learned a great lesson that day...DON'T do flooring!! Actually, the lesson was all the thinking, planning, and effort will never give the desired results unless you align everything.
People & Alignment
I have a good friend who has a favorite saying, "It's always a people problem." While that might seem cynical, there is a lot of truth in that statement. Add to that the challenge of aligning people around a Success Pathway, shared purpose, direction, set of values; that can easily create additional challenges.
We have focused on people being your most important asset, especially in economic uncertainty. People will be the difference between simply surviving and thriving. So how do we align people in a way that better prepares us for whatever comes next? Here are 5 key actions to align people:
- Remember that they are people, not widgets. That is a good thing. Widgets cannot innovate, reduce waste, improve processes, create better ways to do things, take good care of customers. People do these things.
- Share the Success Pathway with them. Get their input. Talk about expectations. Find ways to track and provide visibility into performance and progress. Keep the focus on the path and direction that has been created to reach and sustain the desired success.
- Engage people by equipping them. Show them you are investing in them.
- Connect and communicate. Authentically connect with people. Not just around projects, but in other ways as well. If there are virtual team members, be intentional about connecting often. Care for each other. Support each other.
- Cultivate accountability. (see our online course and eBook) A culture and practices of accountability naturally realigns efforts on a regular basis. Accountable team members are engaged and productive team members. Accountability is one measure we use to assess alignment.
Alignment is the compass we use to stay on course. Even a small deviation could result is missing the desired destination by a large margin. Take the time to align everything...before and during all of your good efforts.
"What Assets can we Leverage and Integrate into a clear success pathway to Generate the results and value we desire allowing us to Navigate challenges and opportunities for better outcomes." A-L-I-G-N
For more, check out our other resources:
Copyright © 2023 EQFIT® - Author: Steven Goodner. All rights reserved. No portion of this material may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except as permitted by U.S. copyright law. For permissions contact: [email protected]
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