If companies want to change and take charge of the future, it’s necessary to focus on connecting the ‘them’ and ‘us’ culture.
How do you combine high performance and commercial succes with the thriving, well-being and motivation of employees? How do you do this so that you attract both customers and the best talent?
In this section you can find out more about why and how to inspire WE leadership in your organisation. A quick overview:
- The importance of strategy and communication.
- Most often it fails
- Preparing for tomorrow – today
1. The importance of strategy and communication
In business things rarely happen by itself – and relying on luck and intention is not enough to succeed.
‘Determining where you and your company is going is often (and should be) based on a strategy’
Yet you probably recognize that it’s difficult to implement strategies? No really, to implement them and get leaders and employees to take ownership and lead the change? Most strategies are conceived as a reaction to outside parameters affecting the business. Very few companies/organisations change their strategy when things are good.
Creating change within an organisation can be done in many ways. A method used in many organisations is the traditional Management way where strategies are conceived in the ‘glass bubble’ by C-level leadership often with the help of a range of management, strategy and performance consultants
Key employees and leadership groups are involved in the analysis that lead to the strategy. (Because management do know that engagement, knowledge and inputs from the organisation is important to create change).
‘A communication plan is obviously part of the strategy – you want everyone within the organisation to know where you’re going and WHY’
Maybe you even have a 100-day plan to make sure your new strategy takes off.
2. Most often it fails
During the strategy implementation process you measure, analyse and follow the progress. Indeed, these are important steps. Rarely however do they create more buy-in or even spark motivation.
‘As new prominent issues take up both yours and the rest of the organisations time less and less time is spent on the new strategy’
The result is that change is initially slowed and eventually the intended effect(s) wear off. Daily life sets in. Management is left wondering why they (the leaders and employees) are not pursuing the strategy when everyone knows how important or even vital it is for us (the company and/or management).
‘This approach is not much different from laying a new lawn where you buy the finished lawn and just prep the soil by levelling it and watering it before rolling out the new grass’
What easily happens is that if you don’t tend to the new lawn by watering it, replacing withered parts and making sure that conditions are near perfect for the grass to grow you’ll never get that bright green lawn that you wished and hoped for. All this in spite the fact that the lawn initially looked perfectly fine once rolled out.
Most organisations consist of a variety of generalists (the leaders/managers) that know/understand where the company is going and a variety of experts (the people who do the nitty-gritty work) which requires focus on details and processes.
In other words, the generalists know WHAT is needed to achieve the desired results and the experts knows HOW to get these results.
‘With the technology progress we are seeing these days, the HOW changes almost daily’
When the top-management has explained the WHY, and this is not aligned with the WHAT and the HOW, the people that are the organisation find it hard to understand and hence stop pursuing it. Or rather they are pursuing the WHY but focus is on the limited room for action that each person has; the autonomy.
Managers spend time doing WHAT it takes to meet KPI’s, personal goals etc. and employees spend time doing things HOW they are done best based on the actual situation – and based on current (and future) customer needs.
3. Preparing for tomorrow – today
Another approach to the strategy is taking a more holistic view of the organisation.
Be eliminating the them and us way of managing, a company/organisation can be transformed making it both more agile and capable of creating new business as well as developing existing business.
‘By breaking down the silos of an organisation/business focusing on the we, it is possible to combine a culture characterized by being both a great place to work and one that sparks motivation of employees by using their inputs and ideas’
Yes, the top-management should still identify the WHY of the company/organisation and where the organisation is going. You might say that top-management decides the destination.
Then rather than being told WHAT to do, managers should co-operate across the organisation and at levels both above and below. The managers should seize this opportunity to become leaders that identify, analyse and qualify how getting to that destination becomes possible.
The best results in finding out how to get to the destination is by involving those who knows HOW best to get there. The specialists. The specialists are of course those working in-house of your organisation but you can go a long way by involving your customers as well.
‘The customers know what works with them (and what doesn’t)’
If using the lawn analogy again you might say that yes, we need to make a new lawn, and what we need is specialists that knows the exact best conditions for growing that specific lawn under those specific conditions at that precise location. Then we need the generalists to connect all the dots to make the right things happen in the right order so eventually the grass will be both green and strong and all considerations for the best outcome is in place.
‘If your grass is green enough you’ll attract more talented employees as well as customers who wants to use your grass. How is that for success with the strategy?’
Key words for making all of this happen is co-operation and the willingness to realise that as a leader you don’t need to know all or have all the answers. If given the opportunity employees are more than willing to share their insights. This requires new communication skills within the organisation and expectedly the traditional e-mail writing from top-down will be a thing of the past.
‘To inspire WE leadership an open and close to real time flow of information is vital’
Further, and equally (if not more) importantly a prerequisite for success is an organisational structure that purposely and consistently support and promotes a culture of both feedback and facilitation of insights/ideas.
We all need a pat on the back for a job well done or sometimes a hint to improve and get even better. We also need to be heard and know that what we do matters and have an impact. That’s when people are motivated to perform extraordinary – and that will eventually put them in a league of their own.
‘Disruption doesn’t happen by itself – it takes people! And the total sum of diversity is what will make or break companies in the time ahead’
How do you get started? See if you can inspire WE leadership at your workplace – and enjoy the positive energy it gives back from both colleagues and customers.