Creating systemic consistency
Last week, a very talented executive at a midsize company sought my opinion on an important question: how to create strategic consistency in her business—amid the myriad challenges, and often competing goals, the organization is facing? My answer was simple: seek consistency in everything you do, from idea conception and analysis to implementation and post-execution review.
Sounds easy enough, right? But you’d be surprised how little attention this topic draws in corporate boards across the world. See, as a manager, your shareholders, bankers and other stakeholders demand consistency from you. And so do your personnel. They may not say it openly, but it certainly is a salient topic in their minds.
How do you achieve consistency?
Three things are important here: corporate culture, clear vision and managerial involvement.
Corporate culture means the “tone at the top.” In other words, how you convey your professionalism and ethical bent to your staff. Are you a “laissez-faire” executive or a hands-on manager? I’m not passing judgment on leadership fitness here, but you must determine your managerial style to ascertain the right steps to take. Time and again, clients are telling me the virtues of clear communication in promoting camaraderie among the top management team, an important mindset that trickles down positively to the rank and file. To create a productive corporate culture, work with your Corporate Communications, Human Resources and Corporate Social Responsibility departments—and craft consistent, clear and frequent content to keep your personnel interested and involved.
Clear vision means you define and stick to a strategic plan, regardless of the whims of financial markets. I know; this is a difficult one. But clients who have remained true to their operational ideals tell me they have been better off over time. Not in one quarter or two years, but over time—meaning a reasonable period to harvest the operational seeds you’ve planted. Timing is essential here, and depending on your company’s situation, you may not have time. But don’t underestimate the importance of vision clarity.
Management involvement doesn’t mean basking in adulation in front of midlevel personnel, hoping they’ll execute your plans right off the bat because you’ve showered them with a few thousand bonus dollars or praised some of them for their unique leadership style.
See, it doesn’t happen that easy, my friend. You should create effective communication channels through which you can get feedback, and act on it. Have periodic town halls and out-of-town excursions to gauge manager morale. Seek their involvement when mulling strategy. I’ve seen that even small involvement can make a manager feel appreciated, which, in turn, boosts his or her morale and overall productivity. Happiness at work augments productivity, you know that already. But what you may not suspect is the overall positive effect that clarity of mind and employee welfare typically have on your bottom line. Don’t take my word for it; just read the brilliant article penned by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton in Harvard Business Review, to see how investing in your staff can create happiness—and a happy uptick in your overall return on investment in the long term.
To your success,