In our data driven age, where business decisions are motivated by quantifiable information and analysis, many business leaders assume that interpersonal or “soft” issues can’t be measured or are not important when it comes to getting results. Many CEOs are frustrated by their senior leaders’ failure to execute their vision for the organisation, they assume this is due to attitude or competence. The reality, in most cases, is that senior teams don’t agree on and don’t understand what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. It’s a sobering notion for leaders, but there is a simple solution to the problem.
The Hidden Cost of a Lack of Alignment
Your organisation suffers when your senior management are not in alignment – in other words, if they don’t have a clear shared understanding of the vision for the organisation, and how to achieve it.
When your senior team members do not approve of your vision, they will lack the drive to help you achieve it. And if they are not clear on your vision and what you expect them to do, they can’t possibly do their job.
How can your senior team members issue instructions when they themselves are confused and demotivated? Imagine this affecting all the employees in your organisation who ultimately report to them. That’s a lot of confusion and de-motivation!
Alignment Can Be Measured and Analysed
You can measure the degree of alignment that currently exists quite easily. Not only that, you can pinpoint exactly where the problem lies so you can take action. This is exactly what Gerard, the CEO of one manufacturing company, did recently. Gerard wanted to double the size of his business within two years. But he was struggling to get his senior team behind his vision, and there was consistent failure to execute it. The measurement based on confidential surveys of individual senior team members showed that Gerard had an extreme problem. This was a blow to his assumptions about his own performance, but he now had the information he needed to take action.
Gap Analysis Highlights Lack of Alignment
In the chart below, the line and dots show Gerard’s understanding of his team’s clarity and approval across the six criteria. The shaded areas show the senior team’s actual levels of clarity and approval. As you can see, this is a poorly-functioning team. But Gerard could not see the extent of it until it was measured.
As the chart shows, in some areas such as vision, Gerard understood he had a problem, but in others such as goals, procedures and roles, he had no idea. His senior team had stagnated because they were not clear about what they should actually do when they show up to work!
Gerard now knows exactly where he needed to make improvements. He was able to work with his team to identify a shared vision and goals, and to then clearly identify what everyone needed to do to achieve them. As it turned out, Gerard’s senior team’s failure to get behind and execute his vision had nothing to do with attitude or competence. The lack of execution was down to a lack of alignment.
The team’s alignment scores have now consistently improved over time, and continued measurement allows Gerard to address any remaining gaps.
A Vision of the Future
In this case the CEO had some understanding of the problem, which is one of the reasons he sought help. But he still did not expect things to be so drastic. The danger for leaders is that when they present their vision, purpose, or goals, senior team members are reluctant to say “I’m not clear on that” so they don’t appear foolish, and they are seldom going to say “I don’t agree.”
It took Gerard some courage to face up to the problem, especially when it turned out to be even more drastic than he had imagined. But because the measurement enabled him to clearly understand the nature and extent of the problem, he was able to immediately start taking action.
Without having to hire extra staff or invest more capital in the business, Gerard was able to dramatically improve performance, simply by taking a data driven approach to a problem he had assumed was unmeasurable and therefore unsolvable.
Do you really know how aligned your team is? How long does it take your team to reach agreement on important strategic decisions?
If you would like to measure the alignment in your senior team, contact Performance Partners +353 1 240 2255.