Align Behavior with Goals

The last two posts took up the problems of getting all organizational work aligned to real goals for that organization.  The point of this effort, and it does take focused effort, is in at least three areas.  Most obvious is the idea of having all organizational energies focused in the same direction, not working to different and perhaps unknown oppositional goals.  Secondly, to feel part of the team everyone needs to understand how their work contributes to team success.  Being part of a team is a source of individual motivation; the secret sauce of successful organizations.   Last, but important, if everyone inside agrees on same goals it is more likely that there will be clear and consistent messaging to the outside: members, customers, competitors.

To catch up, have a look at the previous two posts:  

The Trap of False Ends   and

Getting Everyone Aligned to the Right Ends

In this post, I will review some concrete suggestions to achieve this desired state of internal alignment.

Alignment should be pursued and monitored all the time, but it is mandatory to achieve organizational change of any magnitude.  Change presents the opportunity to reshape the organization to respond specifically to the change mandate and new goals.  In addition to maintaining relevance, that opportunity for renewal and renewed interconnectivity is another reason that organizations should look to continuous improvement and preferred futures models.

This prospect for renewal should be embraced not feared which is the default human response to anything different.   Leaders have the responsibility for setting, nurturing and modelling the tone here.  They must communicate commitment to making the change a positive experience for everyone.  This leadership communication mandate means personal face time with at least the board and all managers in large organizations, and with every single employee in organizations smaller than 100.  Leaders should expect to invest a lot of time in these communications over as long as it takes to diffuse the driving force for change implementation throughout the organization.  You will know when this achieved:  ideas and energy for change and improvement will pour in from everywhere in the organization.  Leaders are no longer pushing, they are choosing among change/ improvement implementation proposals.

Leadership communication must accompany real restructuring.  Walk the talk.  Create mechanisms to empower all staff to meet organizational goals within their sphere of responsibility and influence, even and especially if this means doing things differently.  People are mostly risk averse and will not likely take personal responsibility for innovation without real support from their managers.  This means creating two-way listening structures to get ideas moving up and down the chain of command with sufficient speed to have employee ideas heard quickly, be rewarded for bringing ideas forward and have the idea tried out.

Have a look at the metrics used to reward performance.  A lot of organizations use short term competitive metrics designed to contrast individuals, to make one or few stand out positively compared to the rest.  Sales promotions are mostly structured in this way: the top seller of the month gets a coveted parking place.  The effect is to pit all sales people against one another.  Hardly likely then that they will collaborate to retain a sales prospect or open a new territory.  Develop team based rewards.  Even better, ask staff for ideas on how to build in rewards for meeting organizational goals.  Extra points for real innovation.

You will likely be surprised at how little these rewards will cost.  Everyone wants to belong.  Structure operations to give everyone the opportunity to be part of creating something great.  For most of us, that is reward enough.

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