Have you ever been “in the zone” at work? Your work seems effortless, you are time efficient, and you seem to have boundless energy? How did this happen? Where did this productivity come from?
The answer is in the “why” you do it – when you are doing what energizes you, nothing can stand in your way. You are doing what you do best, and it motivates you to do even more. Think of the things which motivate you: these are important to identify for yourself.
Can you think of a time when you have not been motivated at work? When you have to force yourself to finish the task, even though it saps you of energy. These are the things which de-energize you, and they are just as important to identify as your energizing tasks.
Now be honest with yourself: would you like to have a daily grind to get through every day, and have to grit your teeth and “just do it” because it has to be done? Or would you rather work in an environment where you were constantly doing what motivates you and what energizes you, and what you are really good at?
I think we would all prefer the latter. Now how does this tie into strategy deployment? Simple: this scenario, where everyone is doing what energizes them, is only possible under good leadership.
It is the leaders of an organization who identify and make sure every associate is engaged, and doing what energizes them in the pursuit of the organization’s WHY – the statement of purpose. If every team member is doing what energizes them, in pursuit of the shared purpose of the company, then the effectiveness and efficiency of your organization will SOAR.
How Do Leaders Do This?
First it is critical for leaders to clarify the aim of the organization – the statement of purpose. As we have said before, each and every team member, from the CEO to frontline associates, must understand what the aim of the organization is, and how their role helps to achieve that aim.
Organizational leadership is responsible for making sure that every member of the organization is aligned to this shared commitment and purpose. But how does the aim of an organization get put into practice every day, and how is the organization kept on track in its goals?
The answer through the use of the effective communication flywheel, and exercising an inverted servant leadership pyramid.
The Effective Communication Flywheel (ECF) provides the infrastructure to harness the power of the organization’s purpose to consistently deliver remarkable results and build customer loyalty.
1. The starting position on the ECF is honest, robust dialogue and learning to achieve alignment. This step is included as a conscious interactive team step during all interactions. Having the team engage in dialogue encourages an open exchange of ideas and information, which is particularly important when engaged in transformational change.
2. The second step on the ECF is achieving commitment. This is not just consensus or agreement. The difference between consensus, agreement, and commitment is that that in spite of likely disagreements on the best way to proceed, the leader who is facilitating the conversation, after all ideas have been heard and vetted, calls the question and asks for team commitment to move forward with the final recommended approach.
Everyone has a had a voice in the discussion and expressed their opinion; however the improvement leader puts forward the best solution for team commitment. This is not a watered down consensus or an ‘agree-to- disagree’ outcome. It is commitment. The result is immediate ownership by all team members for mutual accountability.
3. The third position on the ECF, is accountability. This step clarifies who is accountable for what actions in order to fulfill the team commitment. Specified action items should be SMART objectives (Simple, Measurable, Achievable, Reasonable, and Trackable).
4. The forth position on the ECF, results, comes about as a natural outcome from the disciplined communication and action setting process described in steps 1 to 3. If some detail is missed the process simply restarts with step 1, honest and robust dialog, and repeats the process. That is why it is referred to as a flywheel. The process is cyclical in nature, and develops cultural momentum the more it is used.
5. The final, or fifth, position on the ECF is trust and loyalty, both of which are continually developed as organizations start with why, commit to change, and then consistently achieve results. Associates begin to trust leadership and each other when they see that everyone is rowing in the same direction. Customers experience reliable on-time-complete-and-correct (OTCC) service performance, and their loyalty to the company and its brand flourishes.
Effective Communication Flywheel Lessons
Note that like any flywheel the effective communication flywheel, or ECF, is always rotating. It is never stationary. As long as the ECF is progressing clockwise, the organization builds mutual trust with associates, and achieves customer loyalty.
As soon as the steps are not followed the momentum shifts, and the flywheel begins to move backwards. You can diagnose the problem quickly by simply reversing the steps as follows:
- If no trust exists – Then there will not be honest, robust dialog to achieve alignment.
- Without alignment – There will be no commitment.
- If commitment is not achieved – Then there is not a basis for mutual accountability. Instead workers fulfill orders without process ownership.
- Not “acting like an owner” – Often leads to shoddy workmanship and poor results.
- Customers perceive the disconnect – Between what the Company espouses as their purpose, and the poor or inconsistent service they receive. Nothing is on-time, complete, or correct!
- Retention drops – As worker trust erodes, further adding to poor organizational performance.
- Customer loyalty continues to erode – They begin to seek better products or services elsewhere, and the organization begins to lose market share to better value competitors (cost and quality).
The job of leadership within the Strategy Deployment process is well-depicted in the diagram and summary of responsibilities below:
1. Confirm Priorities
- Leaders manage to fulfill the Aim of the System (the “why” statement)
- Leaders establish and confirm the right process measures (standard operating procedures – SOP’s).
2. Clarify Expectations
- Leaders clarify the role responsibilities and SOP’s related to each role, which represent associates’ individual spheres of influence.
- Leaders consistently utilize the Effective Communication Flywheel (ECF) to achieve alignment and commitment (steps 1 and 2).
- Leaders reinforce the ‘moments of truth’ – That occur when the aim of the system fulfills customer expectations. Celebrate wins!
3. Manage Performance
- Leaders make sure adequate resources are available for best performance, and that associates can efficiently access resources.
- Leaders manage to results (ECF steps 3,4, and 5).
- Finally, leaders participate in daily huddles and weekly operational rounding to confirm priorities and support operational improvement efforts.
This is the challenge and opportunity of leadership. As you deploy these strategy deployment tools and organizations, your organization will win and SOAR!