The global marketplace is incredibly competitive, and it is getting harder and harder for middle market businesses to compete. While many companies have launched extensive strategic planning processes that result in a 40-page playbook for achieving success, those types of documents often sit on executives’ shelves and do little to drive performance.
The key to achieving both short- and long-term success—whatever your metric—is leadership alignment and a strong, positive company culture. This is true for companies of all sizes in all industries.
Here is how it works.
Companies that lead with culture and alignment tend to drive strong business results over time. That is because alignment on the leadership team leads to a clear and focused strategic plan, which can then be shared with the rest of the organization. This ensures everyone is moving in the right direction and is hyper-focused on the activities that will have the greatest impact on the business.
With an understanding of where the company is going, individuals can then provide more value in their roles.
When people are empowered and feel like they can make a difference at the company, they are more likely to contribute. And when individual team members have success, that drives success for the company and for clients. We like to say that when people grow, the company grows. Also, when you create a culture where people feel heard and valued, they are more likely to stick around, and you will reduce employee turnover significantly.
Getting alignment on your “true north” and company strategy takes time and concerted effort. But if you are willing to make it a priority, all it takes is an open mind, a cooperative team, and three simple steps.
Before you can make any changes, you need a solid understanding of where your organization stands today. Depending on the size of your company and your culture, this can be a formal evaluation or a more informal process.
In either case, the evaluation should be as objective as possible and be conducted by a cross-functional team made up of employees of all levels—from entry-level through the C-suite. While you might be tempted to only invite senior executives into the process, the diverse perspectives offered by employees of all levels will ultimately result in a more robust and accurate evaluation.
More than anything else, a valuable team member is one who is willing to participate and provide input that is positive and constructive. The idea generation session should be open and honest, and the objective is to generate as many ideas as possible. No idea is too big or too small.
Once you have conducted an analysis and generated a list of potential improvements, you need to narrow down that list to key drivers or initiatives that will help you achieve your overall corporate objectives. Your goal at this stage should be to walk away with no more than five to eight priority initiatives to focus on.
Getting alignment on the top priorities can be a challenge. But one way to accomplish this is to engage in robust dialogue. This involves sharing opposing opinions through a healthy and respectful debate. By carefully considering all points of view, you can have a productive discussion about what is best for the company. But robust dialogue requires respect for all parties regardless of title or role. And this needs to start at the top.
Business owners and the executive team need to put their egos aside and create an environment where people feel comfortable bringing ideas to the table. And whatever the majority agrees are the top priorities, that needs to be the focus moving forward—even if some of the leaders have a different view.
After finalizing your top initiatives, you need to create a strategy for execution. This will include assigning owners to spearhead each initiative, assembling support teams to carry out the strategy, and adding performance metrics to each initiative.
Leadership also needs to communicate key initiatives and strategies to the broader team to ensure that everyone within the organization clearly understands the strategy and is on board with it. If everyone understands how they can support the priority initiatives, you can move forward as one cohesive unit.
You then need to execute those strategies and optimize their performance over time. The best leaders will not only ensure everyone is aligned, but they will encourage employees at every level of the organization to provide feedback on how to refine and improve these strategies. This will continue to build a culture where everyone feels valued and employees are invested in future success.
If you are ready to get alignment among company leaders but need help doing it, FortéOne can help. We get it, this isn’t easy.
We provide an objective point of view and an independent, formal process for conducting an in-depth assessment. We help you identify key initiatives that the company should focus on to move forward and get buy-in from your teams. And once everyone is rallying around a common goal, you can create significant and sustained change.
If you are interested in learning more, reach out today.
Contributor: Gary Les, Senior Consultant
At FortéOne, we’ve been on the forefront of change as thought and implementation leaders for more than 20 years. Our mission is to help Family and Privately Held Business owners as well as Private Equity and Family Office investors become performance leaders in their respective industries. We are more than consultants—we are problem solvers who work side-by-side with you to deliver a business transformation that improves performance and accelerates change in your middle market company.