Most organisations that want to get better are not struggling because they lack good products, market opportunities or clever people.
Rather they are struggling because they are unhealthy.
A healthy organisation has minimal politics or confusion and sets high standards of performance. Here talented people work together on common goals while success is measured not by personal victories but by the progress of the joint plan.
It’s the polar opposite of a company fragmented by internal strife and paralysed by its own poisoned culture.
In these unhealthy cutthroat places, infighting at the top occupies more time than solving problems on the ground. Serving the customer comes second to securing one’s turf. Sometimes people worry more about enjoying their perks than the real problems facing the organisation.
Henry Ford once said; “the internal ailments of business are the ones that require the most attention.”
Fortunately, these ailments have a remedy. Like most things worth doing the remedy involves disciplines. Four actually and each one is essential.
Discipline 1: Build a cohesive team at the top.
This has nothing to do with touchy-feely exercises or theoretical discussions.
Rather it involves the team committing to collective results and then building the trust and commitment necessary to have direct, open conversation with each other and to hold one another accountable.
Discipline 2: Create clarity for the organisation.
Most organisations have a deep and unmet craving for clarity.
Healthy organisations meet this need and minimise the potential for confusion by clarifying the answers to a few simple questions that deal directly with why the organisation exists, how people must behave and what is most important.
Discipline 3: Over-communicate clarity.
This discipline is the key to dealing with the disconnect between executive leadership and the rest of the organisation – a problem that plagues almost every business we work in.
It involves the senior leadership conveying what’s most important to the business and doing so over and over again.
The best leaders build commitment not only by conveying clarity but by personalising it too.
These leaders build emotional connections by telling stories, constructing metaphors and making themselves vulnerable. They constantly repeat the same messages so people believe they are sincere.
Vitally they understand that it is essential to not only communicate information but inspiration too.
The payoff is massive – building a community of people who want to perform together is the key to having a distinctive competitive advantage for a long time to come.
Discipline 4: Reinforce clarity with human systems
In healthy organisations systems are in place to ensure:
- People who are hired also fit in.
- Successful performers are rewarded.
- Underperformers are managed.
- New hires are effective right away.
- The right people are promoted.
This is about institutionalising clarity and making sure it is actually embedded into the fabric of the organisation.
These disciplines take both effort and time. But less time than you may think.
With commitment and persistence from the top along with a willingness to courageously confront the issues, an organisation will succeed in becoming healthier.
Very few organisations are truly dysfunctional – most just need the leaders to boldly set the tone, create the clarity and be an example for everyone else.
These disciplines are the blueprint for doing so. They are not a nice to have, they are in fact the most important strategic choice your business will ever make.
We love hearing from you. Please comment below – which discipline do you feel would make the biggest impact on your organisation right now?