Clarity has always been a business imperative; perhaps, never more so than in these times of great challenge, rapidity and change. The ability to simplify the complex is an essential skill for leaders at all levels – for organisation, team and individual. Yet so many businesses suffer from ambiguity, leading to employee disengagement, customer dissatisfaction, inefficiency, lack of innovation and inability to adapt, all of which are potentially detrimental to the bottom line. Making things simple is tough; yet it’s something that deserves thought, effort and, probably, a change of approach.
It starts at the top:
People need to have clarity of purpose so start at organisational level by being precise about ‘Who we are and why we’re here’. It’s interesting that few businesses (and / or their people) can answer this question quickly, succinctly and accurately. It’s not about a ‘sign on the wall’; it’s one message that becomes a living, breathing thing that everyone can get behind, feel proud of and relate to. Purple Cubed’s purpose, for example, is ‘Transform everyone we come into contact with for the better’. And Ikea’s, ‘Create a better everyday life for the many people’. Simple enough to remember, powerful enough to inspire.
How this will be delivered will be determined by your values which, like your purpose, must have real meaning and application. Virgin Airlines’ are pretty good (Think customer. Lead the way. Do the right thing. Determined to deliver. Together we make the difference). Those simple words cover an entire range of sentiments and priorities (even though they could have gone one better by making them into a mnemonic).
Once you’re clear about the ‘why’ and the ‘big picture how’ you can work out organisational objectives and, from those, team and individual goals because people not only need purpose, they also need to know how they can contribute.
Communication is key:
Communicating organisational purpose cannot be done simply through ‘telling’ because you employ individuals in a variety of roles and circumstances. It takes work to relay the message then allow people an opportunity to discuss (clarify) and maybe even challenge this with you. Transparency is key and builds trust – be clear about where you stand though also be prepared to listen.
Your people should then be given an opportunity to work out how purpose and values will work in the context of team and self, setting team and individual goals that are clearly aligned with the big picture. Then make sure you have the means in place to enable people to manage their own progress (an example of this is the goal manager module on our own Talent Toolbox). Continue to communicate consistently, frequently and via a variety of channels.
Getting this right will lead to alignment, collaboration, innovation, enhanced customer and employee journeys, leading to an overall improvement in the bottom line.
Perhaps one to adopt as a resolution for 2019?
For our People Related Predictions for 2019, watch this space in December…