Last week I talked about Alignment and I want to expand upon that topic. It's funny, I am listening to SportsCenter in the background as I type and they were talking about Alignment as it is applied to the Golden State Warriors. I think Alignment is the key to successful organizations and Sports Teams are the most visible way to see that. But there is a part of Alignment that is paramount and that is Communications. The reason is that without Communications there can be no Alignment. You have to have a message that is both broad and narrow. The broad part of the message is that there needs to be a consistency for all your audiences. This can include employees, customers, partners, press, analysts and shareholders. They should all be aware of the overall portions of your message. However, there will need to be specifics that relate to each audience. That part of your message must be narrow. That way the receiver of your message can find their connection to the message.
The primary group that you need to align are your employees. Last week I talked about potential ways that people can not be aligned. Here is another part of the puzzle. How much direction do you give on alignment and how much freedom do you give people? A lot of the answer is simple. The more senior employees should have greater freedom. But it is a call that gets made with the individual and direct supervisor. Now that the path has been laid out, how do you want to contribute? There are clearly cases where this will need to be a directive effort, but by allowing the employee to participate they get to buy in. That buy in will create a path for the employee to hold themselves accountable to their plan. If you provide the plan, then it is your plan. If you collaborate with an employee on a plan then it is a joint plan that both of you are responsible for.
The best part of a joint plan is that accountability is much easier to handle. No plan is going to work out perfectly, but if you collaborated on the creation of a plan then the employee can not back out of their portion of the responsibility for the plan. Now that may seem like it is a trick, but in fact this is key. The reason that alignment is so important is that employees make thousands of decisions every day. They need a voice inside their head on how to weigh their choices with the goals that the company wants to meet. Without that voice, they may make a completely reasonable decision but one that heads in the wrong direction. If the plan that has been created is your plan, then the voice is your voice. A collaborative plan uses their voice as a guide. That makes the voice much more powerful.
You can use this collaborative process in any style of delegation. You would think that those that are being directed would not be a candidate for collaboration. In this case, the employee will have a set of choices outlined for them. The supervisor will have more regular checks on progress. But there is still a need for these low trust relationships to evolve and there is no better way than to do it than work on goals, plans and progress together.
Have a great week! Jim Sackman Focal Point Business Coaching Business Coaching, Executive Training, Sales Training, Marketing
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