Your Road-map To Getting The Job Done On-time
Every leader is tasked with getting from Point A to Point B. It’s often their most significant objective and the hardest to achieve, and accountability is the single greatest threat to reaching Point B.
Every organization deploys three fundamental resources: time, people and money. Think of your organization as a funnel into which time, talent and treasure are poured. Emerging from the funnel’s spout is the result of your investment in those three commodities. As time, talent and treasure move through your funnel toward a result, their original state is altered as they come into contact with one another. This contact is shaped by two key contributing factors: the processes inside your organization and the behavior of people. The sum of this behavior is your organization’s culture.
For many leaders and their organizations, the narrowest point of the funnel is a chokepoint because it’s a place where emotions can enter into decision making and influence the results. Emotions can prevent successful leaders from holding themselves, their peers and those who report to them accountable.
Part of what makes accountability difficult is that when you are working with smart people and things don’t get done well or on time, you are often handed excuses. It is a vicious circle, and the excuses are infinite. Talk is cheap, so we often buy it. When we do, accountability suffers. And even though accountability is a significant component of any leader’s success, it is not even your biggest problem. Your biggest problem is reaching Point B.
To cross the abyss to reach Point B, your first challenge is to help those on your team see that it is both necessary and possible to get to the other side. They not only need to share your vision, they need to believe it. Unfortunately, those who share your enthusiasm are usually outnumbered by those who do not.
You will need everyone’s help achieving the organization’s vision, not just a select few. So, your second job as the leader is to bring everyone along so that they, too, believe in the vision and commit to achieving it.
People are more likely to support a plan they helped develop, so guide your team through the development of a plan that shows how you will cross the abyss and get from Point A to Point B. Your plan should include objectives, strategies, budgets, responsibilities and schedules. Your plan is your road map. It’s also your contract with each other. Without a plan, expectations are not clear. And without clear expectations, accountability is not possible.
If you don’t plan to change, don’t bother to plan. Planning, by definition, means doing more of what’s working and less of what isn’t. So the planning process should be expected to identify people, processes and programs that are delivering high levels of performance as well as those that no longer serve the enterprise or are inefficient.
Tackle change head-on, and expose difficult issues that must be addressed if the company expects to improve its financial and operational performance. Leaders in these sessions talk openly, perhaps hesitantly at first but then more confidently as the session continues, about fixing problems, replicating successes and carving up sacred cows.
At the conclusion of these debates, a choice must be made. Those who agree with the decision are prepared to be held accountable by colleagues and likewise are prepared to hold colleagues accountable for implementing the plan.
High-performing organizations share seven distinct characteristics. This include:
Character: An organization’s character is shaped by its values, and these values are clearly defined and communicated. The organization does what is right for its customers, employees, suppliers and investors, even when it’s difficult to do so.
Unity: Every employee understands and supports the organization’s mission, vision, values and strategy and knows his or her role in helping to achieve them.
Learning: The organization is committed to continuous learning and invests in ongoing training and development.
Tracking: The organization has reliable, established systems to measure the things that are most important.
Urgency: The organization makes decisions and acts on them with a sense of purpose, commitment and immediacy.
Reputation: The organization rewards achievement and addresses under-performance, earning the organization and its leaders a reputation both internally and externally as a place where behavior matches values.
Evolving: The organization continuously adapts and changes the organization’s practices to grow its marketplace leadership position.
The acronym: C.U.L.T.U.R.E. will help you remember this seven characteristics and that your culture is a significant predictor of your future performance.
Imagine a bridge spanning an abyss supported by seven pillars, each representing one of the seven characteristics that are essential in high-performing cultures. Crossing the abyss — moving your organization from Point A to Point B — requires the commitment of you and your team.