Do you have a nagging feeling that there is huge untapped potential in your business that you just can’t seem to harness? If you feel that way, you’re not alone.
And if your 7-figure business isn’t the well-oiled machine that you want it to be, there’s a good chance that you’re overlooking one important management success key in how you run your business:
My definition of alignment is "getting everyone in your business working together to achieve the goals of your business."
And the bigger your company gets, and the faster it’s growing, the harder it is to get and keep everyone aligned and working toward the same goals and objectives.
Focusing on organizational alignment has been a major success key in helping my clients dramatically improve their profit while reducing their work hours and putting more ease and fun back into their lives. And it can have the same impact in your business.
What I’m going to share with you are two important areas that you need to focus on to improve your business alignment so that everyone in your business boat is rowing in the same direction together.
Develop a focused vision and plan for your business
A common metaphor for alignment is “getting your ducks in a row.” But the fact is that momma duck can’t force those baby ducks to line up all nice and orderly. The baby ducks won’t line up until momma picks a direction and leads the way. And the same is true in your business. You need to lead the way.
So, the first step in creating alignment for your business is to create a clear vision and plans that spell out the direction you’re heading and the steps that you’re going to take to get there.
Unfortunately, most business owners don’t have a clear vision of what they want to create nor do they have written plans on how to get there. Do you? If you don’t, this is one of the root causes for why you don’t have the well-oiled, hitting on all cylinders, business that you really want. It is impossible to create alignment without a clear vision, goals and plans to point the way.
Like a magnifying glass that focuses the diffuse sunshine to start a fire, having a vision and a plan will focus everyone's energy time and effort on building the business that you want to create. So put this at the top of your “to-do” list of things that you need to work on.
Align your management team and crews to support your vision and goals
Now that you’ve a clear vision of your business direction and have created the plans to get there, it’s time to get everyone in your business coordinated and working together toward your vision and goals. Here are four things that you must do to ensure that team alignment happens:
- Share your vision and game plan with your team.
Don’t keep it a secret. Share your business vision and plans with everyone in your company. Everyone! Each employee in your company plays some key role in helping you grow and be profitable, so it’s important that they know what your vision and plans are and how they can contribute. Trust me, very few employees actually know your goals and plans and without that knowledge there is no alignment.
To communicate more effectively, many of my clients share their vision and plans and how everyone can contribute at an annual company kickoff meeting and then continue to reinforce these priorities through training and monthly progress meetings. You may choose to do something different, but it is important that you communicate regularly.
- Ensure that someone owns every important goal and priority…and they can’t all be owned by you!
When I ask owners, “Who is responsible for (fill in the blank)?” (Getting enough leads, achieving our gross profit goal, controlling fixed expenses, growing our commercial business, etc.), the most common answers I get are:
- “I am. I'm responsible for everything!” But let’s face it, you can’t be personally responsible for ensuring that every goal and key priority is achieved. There’s just isn't enough of you to go around! Many owners have tried, but it always results in lots of stress and hours for you and subpar business performance.
- “We all are… sort of!” When everyone is responsible, no one really is, resulting, again, in subpar business performance
So what’s the answer? I find that if you want something to get done, someone needs to own it and be responsible for making sure that it happens. So if you want to align your business around your vision and goals, you need to assign ownership for each goal and key priority to someone on your team. And when I say ownership, I mean that they (not you) are responsible for ensuring that goals and key business priorities are achieved.
Your role as the owner now shifts away from being responsible for everything to holding your team accountable for achieving their goals and coaching them on how best to do that.
- Let everyone know how their role contributes to the company’s success
Have you ever watched a pro football game? A Pro football team has set positions and each player knows exactly how their position contributes to the success of the team and what they need to do in each situation. And the same should be true for the different positions in your business.
And yet when I talk to employees in any position, management team or crew, most don’t know that that the ultimate goal of their job is to help the business grow and make a profit, nor do they have a clear picture of how their role contributes to the overall success of the business.
Now you might be thinking, “We have job descriptions. Isn't that what they're supposed to be for?” Yes, they're supposed to be, but most job descriptions just tend to be a hodge podge, laundry list of duties and responsibilities that most employees read once and then forget.
To align your team around your goals and objectives, you need to spell out clearly: (1) how each position creates value for your company; (2) the key actions that an employee must take maximize the value they create; and (3) how success will be measured. Defining and training your employees on these three elements will create a simple “Success Formula” to guide your employees on how to excel in their jobs and how to align their actions to helping your company grow profitably.
- Follow through to Sustain Alignment Throughout the Year
Alignment is not a once and done thing. You need to continuously keep your team focused and working together to maintain alignment. I think that the GPS is the model that all business owners should hold themselves to when it comes to keeping your business aligned. With GPS, once you set a destination for your trip, the GPS maps out a course to get there, monitors and updates your progress, adjusts your path when you get off course or hit an unexpected traffic jam. It is absolutely relentless in keeping you aligned and on the path to your destination.
You need to be as relentless as GPS to ensure that everyone in your business stays aligned throughout the year. To accomplish this, I have my clients establish a regular schedule of meetings with the company as a whole and with their top team to give everyone feedback on progress with their goals and plans and to keep everyone continuously heading in the right direction. This may seem like a lot of time and work but it has proven to be a huge time saver, productivity booster and alignment creator.
Harness the full potential of your business!
Creating alignment in your business where everyone is harmoniously, working together to achieve your business goals is the key to harnessing the huge untapped potential in your business. Following the steps that I’ve laid out here have a dramatic impact on your business and your life. So, let’s get started!
Bill Silverman, Springboard Business Coaching, presented two sessions at National Pavement Expo, Jan. 28-31 in Nashville. He can be reached at 12 Lavenham Court, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; phone 856-751-1989; [email protected]