by Paul Kinvig, Business Growth Coach & Facilitator at Aspirin Business Solutions
One of the more annoying things about visiting supermarkets, (apart from the apparently random “unexpected item in bagging area” announcements from the self-service checkouts”) is the time honoured challenge of pushing a shopping trolley with a wonky wheel!
We’ve all been there, pushing the trolley in the direction we want it to go, only to have it veer sideways into the red peppers or the legs of an innocent shopper. Using one of these trolleys takes additional time and effort as well as building up a significant amount of frustration and all because one wheel is out of alignment!
This issue of alignment is the spine of our ‘Seven Factors to FASTER Growth’ programme, the first step of which is ‘business vision & values.’ We’ve discussed what makes a strong vision in a previous blog – I have a dream, but too often MD’s, CEO’s & senior teams construct vision & value statements that they’re inspired by then hit the “wonky wheel” syndrome.
Why? Simply put their vision is out of alignment with what really motivates & drives the people for whom it was intended to inspire, align & energise – the staff! They then don’t understand why their teams are not equally or even remotely enthusiastic about it – and push the trolley harder just to try get it to move rather pausing to ‘align the wheels.’
In our experience here are three common causes of misalignment:
- Words vs Experience – The employees experience of working in that organisation is different from that which the vision states it to be! Nobody should expect perfection, however, if the real life impact of the way the organisation operates bears no resemblance to the stated vision & values then the likelihood is that not only will staff not buy into it but actively kick against it. They will see no authenticity and authenticity is one of the key drivers in employee engagement. If you lead an organisation then it’s sometimes a painful but necessary question to ask “How does the experience of my employees working in my company/team match up to what I believe it to be/want it to be?”
- Company Motivators vs Personal Motivators – “What motivates us may not motivate them” – we know that to be true and yet in the heat of everyday business we often go for what we think is the easiest route….the one we’d pick for ourselves!! For example the vision might focus on growth, innovation & agility (because that’s what really lights our fire) yet the team are truly motivated by customer service and security. There would be a very real chance that the team would be resistant as they fear the vision would somehow put this at risk. Sometimes we have to let our teams know ‘what we won’t do’ as much as what we will do – otherwise they pull back to manage the perceived risk. The RNLI in Poole, address this issue clearly & concisely on their website. Do you REALLY know what motivates your people or do you just assume it’s the same things that motivate you?
- Not Hardwired………There are times when the culture AND structure of organisations are not aligned with the vision/mission etc. For example the mission statement may talk about innovation and yet there is no route or structure for new ideas to be put forward or no way in which those ideas are encouraged and supported. Alternatively, the organisation may profess a commitment to customer service and yet have no clear and agreed way of understanding customer issues or handling things effectively when they go wrong. Again, a question worth asking is “Do we have the structure & culture in place to reflect and deliver the vision and mission?”
George Labovitz in his book “The Power of Alignment” puts it brilliantly when he says
“Vertical alignment implies more than employee compliance with strategy that is set at the top. It’s a two-way street… employees in the middle of the organization and on the front lines almost always experience greater intimacy with customers and competitors than do senior managers, and their insights can enrich strategy-but only if they are actively solicited.”
Are you brave enough to “solicit insight” from your front line, understand what truly motivates them and build a culture that reflects your vision in the company?
Here, at Aspirin Business Solutions, we help leaders create visions that inspire them, written in a way that motivates their team. We help them to identify clearly, and as a team, what they want to change and what they won’t. And we help them articulate the values that truly drive the business, because they drive the business leaders. Then we help them ensure every aspect of their business plan links, from the vision, through the values, strategy, 12 month mission & mantra, through the business objectives and team missions to the individuals, who clearly understand how their work contributes to the vision and to the organisation and team as a whole. In a nutshell, through our Seven Factors to Faster Growth:
We’d love to help you explore how the Seven Steps could add more value to your organisation, and avoid the ‘wonky wheel’ syndrome. Please get in touch to arrange a conversation.
T: 01202 801187
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