Goals + Structural Alignment = Higher Performance

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future (John F. Kennedy).

Companies that align vision, strategy, structure, people, processes and customer focus will outperform and outlast the competition. During difficult economic climates, companies with a thrive attitude rather than a survive attitude, position themselves for the eventual change in the economy. How are they doing this and what differentiates these companies from those that won’t be around in 2012, 2013 and beyond?

Organizational Leadership & Structure

The structure of an organization is critical to client satisfaction, repeat and referral business. The cost of sales and marketing including capital investment, personnel, advertising, and contract negotiations directly affect revenue, cash flow and profit. Service-intensive businesses rely on the talent of their people for creative solutions to problems. Commodity businesses also rely on people to create, manufacture, market and distribute their goods. The key word is “people,” and people respond more productively when expectations, roles and responsibilities are clearly defined with measurement benchmarks. This methodology is effective within all organizations. Everyone understands the path to progress and is held accountable for their activities. Creating an innovative culture that has defined processes and doesn’t constrict creativity is the challenge of our rapidly changing work environment. Rigid structures hinder the flexibility required to address the changing needs of the customer. The absence of any structure indicates no clarity of common purpose and understanding. It creates communications issues throughout the business cycle process from business development through fulfillment, and ultimately, the referral of new customers from satisfied customers. Companies that successfully combine adaptability to structure will thrive.

Alignment Key Indicators

The values of the company and its leaders are critical to alignment.  The “stakeholders” of the organization must have a strategy and a plan for implementing the strategy, including the allocation of resources. The strategy and purpose must be articulated throughout the organization. Regardless of the size of the company, effective communications are needed to engage, motivate and manage. Ineffective communications about the goals result in silos and mis-alignment. Employees sense a lack of direction and purpose and performance is compromised. In successful organizations, the leadership team creates strategy, often with input from customer service and line personnel. Depending on the size of the organization, leaders who devise strategies are likely to also participate in their implementation.  At a minimum, they are held responsible for measuring the effectiveness of the strategy and making adjustments when deemed necessary through benchmarks. A key indicator is client satisfaction. If client satisfaction is an issue, look to the communications process. Questions to ask include: are our employees empowered to act in the best interest of the client? Are there repeated breakdowns in expectations? What is the length of time it takes to handle an issue if it involves a higher authority? What is the process for tracking repeat issues? Another key indicator is when departments or people are not working towards the same goal, or rowing in the same direction. Do they own the goals and do they have the proper resources to achieve them? Dis-function occurs when the goals and the necessary buy-in and resources are not in sync. This is often evidenced by unhealthy competition, finger pointing, and an unpleasant and unproductive work environment. Redundancies occur due to lack of trust in others’ abilities which furthers the level of discontent. Customers notice, find no further need of services and certainly won’t refer them either.

Well Business Check-Up

Similar to a regular physical for your personal health, businesses also need well business check-ups periodically. Monitoring the structure of the organization, assessing the general business climate and economic drivers, internal processes and personnel on a regular basis helps avoid catastrophic business ills.

Assessments

There are a number of assessments available for teams to reconstruct themselves and for leaders to gain renewed vigor within their organizations. How to best administer assessments is determined through dialogue. In the best situations, leaders follow through and continue the dialogue well after the assessments. Current practices promote the theory that while we must be aware of personal and company weaknesses and threats, it is far more productive to operate from a position of strength and opportunity. Simple SWOT analysis (strength, weakness, opportunities, threats) on a regular basis are effective assessments that can be drivers of success.

Simple Internal Assessment “SIA”

_____ Do we know what service/product/process we provide?
_____ Are the right people in place?
_____ Are our customers satisfied? If so why?  If not, why?
_____ How do we handle our mistakes issues internally and externally?
_____ Do our employees know what our product/service is?
_____ Do our departments operate effectively?
_____ Do our client service professionals have appropriate authority?
_____ What functions add no value to the customer?
_____ Are there any redundancies in our processes?
_____ Do we know who our ultimate customer is?
_____ Do we know what service/product/process we provide?
_____ Are the right people in place?
_____ Are our customers satisfied? If so why?  If not, why?
_____ How do we handle our mistakes issues internally and externally?
_____ Do our employees know what our product/service is?
_____ Do our departments operate effectively?
_____ Do our client service professionals have appropriate authority?
_____ What functions add no value to the customer?
_____ Are there any redundancies in our processes?
_____ Do we know who our ultimate customer is?

This entry was written by admin, posted on January 31, 2011 at 9:30 pm, filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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