How to Align Leadership with Business Performance

Every employee exists for a purpose. There can be as many job roles as there are people, so the overall picture can become clouded. People may ask: ‘What is this business about?’ ‘What is its purpose?’ ‘Are we all part of a team, or are we just separate individuals solely here to make money?’

The leaders of an organisation are the key players. They too have different skills, goals and expectations. Frustration develops when everyone is pulling in different directions. If there is not a shared vision, companies feel fractured and communication is limited. If there isn’t a common thread running through the business, its performance will be inhibited.

This article sheds some light on how the leaders can be harnessed to a common purpose.

Training

Training time is valuable because it’s time out from the day to day operational activities. It brings the opportunity to sit back and consider the big picture; not just one’s own performance but the company’s too.

Leaders need to be brought together and go beyond the ‘what’ of their daily work. One manager will be responsible for finance, another for customer service. Others may have roles in sales and marketing. They all need a chance to discover the ‘why’ of work too.

There are a number of ways external training can bring value into a company. Trainers have areas of expertise, and possess examples of how similar companies have succeeded. When looking at these training solutions it was comforting to discover that even workers from the top global Fortune 500 recognised the need for it.

There can be guidance for a company’s leadership plans, and tools given for strategic thinking. Business analytics is a complex subject, but there are professionals who can explain it.

Shared Vision

For a company to be high performing, everyone needs to know they are a valuable cog in the machine, designed for one ultimate purpose. How to get there is another question. Neuroscientists have discovered that if a person imagines achieving their personal dream or a vision, their brain will seek strategies to get there.

Leaders similarly need to look at the business performance goals and then work backwards, creating business plans that have strategic objectives.

Appraisals and Culture

If a manager’s personal appraisal is all about human resources but nothing to do with how the business is doing, it is missing a key ingredient. As before, one needs to work backwards: state what the company’s goal is and create objectives that feed into that.

If projects are to be set up, they need to be harnessed to the ultimate desire to make money. One question to ask is: ‘If this is the business goal, what should exist in each person’s skills matrix?’ Glaring gaps need to be filled so everyone feels part of one team rather than an assortment of different people.

It’s not just competencies and skills that have to be aligned. The company’s culture also needs to reflect its vision. Culture adoption should be visited and revisited to ensure leaders have business performance in mind.

Behaviours come out of cultural beliefs, so managers will not steer the company in a uniform way if the goal is uncertain. Behaviours need to be appraised as much as other things.

Some other key contributions that meetings and appraisals can give to management are opportunities for accountability and feedback.

Recruitment

The process of alignment begins right at the start, with recruitment. Managers may apply for an interview and hold an impressive set of credentials. That’s not enough, however.

Key questions will need to be asked, again working backwards. For example, ‘How can you personally help this company make sales and increase its market share’? Any interviewee who considers this question beyond their personal remit should be discounted.

The person’s mindset and behavioural approach are as important, if not more important, than their experience or technical knowledge.

Recognition

Many companies have an ‘Employee Of The Month’. It’s a great way to celebrate peoples’ successes, be they sales staff or janitors. Recognition schemes should also be created for the management of a company. Recognition badges will incentivise them, and even more if there are financial rewards involved.

Any such scheme needs to have the ultimate goal of company performance in mind. This is because they can help drive cultural change in companies. By going public on the awards, you can once again set out the company’s purpose, and how this individual personally contributed to it.

If the managers of a business are all singing from the same hymn sheet there will be a unified direction and result. Everything from recruitment to appraisals, training and recognition need to feed into the company’s vision. Change starts from the top, and it’s the only way to make a business successful.

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