We recently worked with an executive team that was working very hard but not seeing the results.
Perhaps you are part of a team like this? You are dedicated, work long hours, are constantly online, perhaps even take conference calls at 2.00 am, but your company is just not seeing the results.
What is missing is clarity.
Clarity means knowing what to focus on to get results. Clarity drives consistent behaviour and it eliminates unnecessary activity. Without true clarity you end up having too many priorities (which really mean none at all) and your behavioural standards are unclear.
This leads to confusion about what is most important and how to behave. Instead of the concentration of effort on a few things done really well that everyone supports, precious resources are scattered and diluted on too many things.
That’s exactly what was happening with the team I was working with. Some regions were doing better than others but overall when you added it all together, the sum of the parts was disappointing.
Effort was not being rewarded with results and it was taking a toll on them.
The confidence and energy in the team was low. What hurt the most was that good people were leaving for the competition and they felt powerless to stop it.
The real problem was they were working hard but not together. They did not have clarity on what was most important for the organisation. Each person had their own version of the goal but they were not the same. Due to these different goals the harder they worked the more they moved apart.
The pressure was on. “I need to get everyone rowing in the same direction” the CEO told me.
To do this we first needed every executive to see that their number one priority was to act in the best interests of the whole organisation. Their 1st team was the executive team and not the functional or regional teams they were leading back in operations. So often in the team at the top we see a lack of understanding on this important concept.
Individuals think that if their department is winning they are achieving their goals, but unless the business as a whole is victorious no one can be.
This was very hard for some. They had so much invested and they kept putting the hat back on of the team they were leading. What they lacked was the clarity around the bigger picture – the business’s single purpose and how they should contribute to it.
To find this clarity the team set about answering the six critical clarity questions.
These are the questions that get everyone at the top on the same page, focusing on the main goal and purpose of the business. They also ensure that each person’s effort is assisting the main cause and that the resources of the company are being properly channeled.
Through this process the team was now asking the right ultimate question – ‘how do we as executives unlock the full potential of the whole organisation?’ The moment this happened the energy of the team went up.
One of the six questions asks – ‘what is most important right now?’ What is the team’s single most important priority in the next 6-12 months? This question creates the focus and concentration of resources that leads to a breakthrough in performance.
For this team they felt that they had lost their ability and belief to close really big deals. This was a major contributor to their disappointing results and everyone believed passionately that this was their collective number one priority.
Within a few hours we had written up the main goal and identified five key activities that everyone was involved in to achieve the goal.
The excitement in the room was tangible. The rallying cry of the team had been set and the momentum and tone of the team had shifted materially. They couldn’t wait to get back to their teams and communicate the outcome, anxious now to get the whole organisation committed to the main cause.
So will the team turn the tide on its results?
It’s very early to tell. The task ahead of them is demanding. But everyone on the team is now in the same boat, rowing together. Now they have a fighting chance. They have even had their first big win and the belief is coming back.
Do you want to start this process with your own team?
Please add your thoughts and comment on the article in the space below and we will send you a copy of the six essential clarity questions.