And have you chosen the path to get there?
The formulation and renewal of an organization’s vision and goals are arguably amongst the most critical responsibilities its top management holds. Of equal importance is the clear articulation of these to employees and ascertaining that the message has indeed been properly understood. To demonstrate this, consider two scenarios: one where the company’s goals and direction are well articulated and perfectly understood by its employees, and the second where the opposite is true.
• Employees are clear as to where the business is headed, and are thus able to align their own career goals to those of the company. This also serves to prevent future misunderstandings as employees are able to understand what they are signing on to.
• The complexities of defining individual roles and responsibilities are largely simplified as employees are no longer discrete units functioning independently of one another but rather members of a team ultimately working towards a common goal.
• Performance benchmarks are not arbitrary, but rather exist within a larger context that is clear to both team members and leadership. This gives motivated performers a clear target to reach towards and allows successful instances of this to be appropriately rewarded, keeping everyone happy.
• The organization grows as it able to best make use of existing employees and also attract bright new talent.
• Employees are unable to align their own goals to those of the organization (since they have no or limited idea what the latter are!), and are disappointed when the two inevitably clash.
• Individual roles are defined haphazardly and there instances of both too many people being assigned to a task and too few.
• Rewards and recognition seem arbitrary leading to employee dissatisfaction and eventually attrition.
• Whim replaces process.
• The organization meanders, running on a transactional mode of operations and at worst, is forced to close down.
Obviously, these are two extreme scenarios, and in reality organizations fall somewhere in the spectrum between them. However, it clear that it is worth the while of all organizations – be they start-up, SMB or global corporate – to work towards achieving Case 1. The question of where exactly the company lies in the spectrum is one that demands serious and honest introspection. Also worth asking is whether the vision is in alignment with the business as it stands (given the current set of key employees and business practices, values), and if any mid-course refinement might be necessary. An open mind and responsive attitude are of the essence.
Most top managers already have the ability to think things through as outlined above, but it is imperative that they deem the task worth their time and ensure that it is indeed done.
Further, having some members of the top team who are able to think unconventionally and are unafraid to question established norms and thought processes is a reliable way to arrive at weather-proof decisions. Organizations might also consider engaging external consultants, who are able to take on the role of challenger more easily, with less bias and an outside perspective. Ultimately, more important than the means that an organization chooses to accomplish this task is the acknowledgement of the task’s gravity – once this has been established, everything else will fall into place.
(By Sukanya Badri, Hexagram Business Solutions)