Do you have a clear 'line of sight' through your organisation? - 13/04/2010
Businesses will probably have noticed that there is a recession currently running through our economy. For some its impact is a minor inconvenience for others it can be a very stressful period.
It does not matter how big or small your business is, the rules are the same, when times are challenging you must get closer to your people, offer them support and most importantly let them feel that they have some control and responsibility for the success of the business, after all they account for some 70% of your costs!
Some organisations choose to limit the amount of communication they have with their employees as there can be difficult questions to answer, or the principals are so busy surviving that they don't have the time to communicate.
One thing is certain, those companies that see their people as a major part of their business success, and involve them at all levels are generally the ones that not only survive the downturn, but have the strength and support to maximise the opportunity when growth returns.
It is easier to lead in a buoyant market, but real leadership comes into play when the markets turn negative. Individuals look towards management for reassurance and guidance, which if they don't get it, can lead to de-motivation and a sharp drop in performance, which in a recession is the last thing a business needs.
One of the ways that you can insure that this scenario is limited, is by engaging your people and making them feel part of the "Whole" organisation, not just coming in to do a job! Giving people a clear line of sight through the business is a sure fire way of achieving this.
The size of the organisation does not matter, although its importance grows as the business becomes larger with 15-20+ employees. At this point being "part" of the business starts to diminish.
At Image 4 Success we believe that the obvious time to put this in place is during induction of new employees, although it can be introduced at anytime.
Some organisations take this very seriously, one SME we have worked with see "line of sight" as the key element to their success. We have introduced it in a three stage process. New employees in their first week spend time with all company departments in order to understand their function, how they fit with the rest of the business, how the decisions they make impact on other parts of the business, and how they prioritise accordingly.
Thus new employees work in production, visit customers with the sales team, spend time in the warehouse and go out on deliveries. By the end of the first week they have a clear understanding of how the business functions and where they fit into that process.
The second stage is to let them perform their new role for 3 months. And finally, the third stage is to revisit the other departments again for an in depth question and answer session.
Another example of a company we have introduced "line of sight" is a UK based pharmaceutical company. This company manufactures drugs for heart conditions. When we were asked to intervene there were a number of negative issues affecting the company's success as a whole, for example production and packaging issues. The work force saw their roles as "Putting pills in boxes". Each department had their own stand alone priorities which were inconsistent and conflicting with other departments. Unsurprisingly, this disjointed approach led to low morale amongst employees and poor output.
When Image 4 Success introduced "line of sight" into the organisation, one of the first steps was to obtain testimonials from satisfied end users of their heart drugs. There was some life changing Storys! Consequently these testimonials were printed on large posters and displayed around the offices and production areas.
Literally overnight production had increased, quality had improved and overruns had decreased! individuals could now see the value of what they were doing.
Some major organisations that embrace this philosophy are Disney and Pepsi where all employees share a common goal. In the case of Disney it's "To keep the dream alive" and in Pepsi "To refresh the world" whether they are sweeping the streets, loading the trucks or sit at board level.
OK, to the average person all this may sound very clichéd! However everybody in these organisations are moving in the same direction, have the same goals and feel a strong sense of belonging and achievement.
So do you have line of sight in your business?
10 simple questions to ask yourself
• Do you know your vision?
• Do your employees know and share your vision?
• Are your people clear about your business goals and objectives?
• Are your people clear about their own targets and key performance indicators?
• Do they understand functions of all other departments?
• Do they prioritise just around their own department or consider the business as a whole?
• Do they understand the impact of their actions on other parts of the business?
• Do your people know how the company is doing against its targets?
• Do you have regular meetings with your team?
• Are your employees just doing a job or are they are helping the business to succeed?
If you answer NO to any of these areas, you are potentially de-motivating your workforce and limiting your businesses success.
So how do you introduce a concept of ‘line of sight' into your business?
The first thing to do is to be very clear about your businesses goals and objectives. You need to identify measurable outcomes that will enable your business to achieve profitable growth. For example: to achieve a turnover of X, a profit margin of Y, to reduce costs by Z, to attain a 98% score on customer satisfaction surveys, etc.
Just saying "we want to be the first choice for our customers or increase our market share" is not enough. What does that mean to Harry in the post room or Mary in accounts? More importantly, how will you know when you have got there? And if it's not happening how will you identify why? Waiting until the end of your financial year to find out is to LATE. As the saying goes "what you can not measure you can not achieve"!
Once you have reached clarity in your goals and objectives you need to cascade it across different functions of your business, to the team leaders and finally to individuals within the teams. These goals and objectives can be communicated as key performance indicators (KPIs), included in job/role descriptions etc.
The next step is to ensure your employees know all departmental functions. You have to be able to demonstrate consistency of organisational, departmental and individual goals and objectives and how they fit into the wider picture. It can be challenging to ensure understanding of the organisational jigsaw. However this will enable them to make better decisions and prioritise around the company not just around themselves.
There may be some things you want to keep from your employees, but ask yourself a question WHY? Your people can be part of the solution! At "Image 4 Success" we believe that individuals respond positively to challenge and involvement thus gaining a sense of belonging. So go on give it a try!
For further information on this and other areas which will lead your business to success, please contact Philip Peters on 07966 570421 or email to info@Image4Success.co.uk
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