Misaligned organizations are often lacking transparency – both from the owner’s perspective and the employee’s. When entrepreneurs grow a company, they become somewhat removed from the day-to-day activities. This makes it hard for them to evaluate their employees’ performance and identify opportunities for improvement. The faster they grow, the wider the gulf. On the other side, when employees don’t have a line of sight to how the organization is performing, they don’t know what impact their efforts are having.
So, what creates alignment in an organization?
Having a True North
First is a clear vision for the business. Too often, entrepreneurs keep their vision in their heads or can’t articulate it. Employees then don’t know the company’s purpose, which can result in a lack of empathy.
Empowering your People
Next is the feeling of empowerment. Employees must feel that their input is valued and impactful on the business. Empowerment also means that their involvement is not only welcomed but expected – by their manager and the organization as a whole. When they see a problem they are able to fix it on the spot.
Next is the way people actually think about the company, putting in terms of “Value” and “Processes”. There is an optimum way to do every task or function. This “gold standard” produces the most predictable outcome possible and provides everyone a clear picture of where things are going well (as expected) and where improvements can be made.
The organization also needs an established rhythm. This rhythm includes daily huddles where employees shares critical numbers, daily tasks and roadblocks. Weekly meeting should focus on the top three initiatives to be completed to move the company forward and achieve goals. Longer term strategies are included in quarterly and annual meetings. This meeting rhythm makes the most efficient use of everyone’s time while allowing all levels of the organization true interaction and transparency.
Finally, it is vital that key information (metrics) is quickly and effectively communicated up and down the organization. This should be communicated real time using visual management systems. Anyone should be able to walk into a work area and in less than 5 minutes and without talking to anyone be able to see what the current state of the work, where things are going off track and what is being done to correct the issue. An efficient way to achieve this is by using a dashboard or huddleboard that displays key information quickly and clearly and helps everyone “see” where to focus their efforts.
With these visual management systems you and your employees can identify the root cause of issues and more easily determine the appropriate corrective action. The systems also track results to validate the fix.
Aligning your organization takes a lot of work. But these steps will not only generate a return on your hard work but will also ensure that your business will thrive for years to come.