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Is Everyone In The Same Boat, Rowing In The Same Direction?

by David Brock on March 6th, 2009

So we’ve completed all the layoff’s, we’ve re adjusted our strategies to recognize the new realities of the global economy, and we are rushing forward at 200 mph to drive business. All of a sudden, confusion, crises, and miscommunication dominates our waking moments. Who does what, to whom? What are our priorities? What about the things that Jill used to do, but she’s gone? I thought this was my job, but now you’re telling me something different? You’re asking me to do the work of all the people you just laid off—I can’t cope!

Too often, we are seeing this with our clients and other organizations struggling to adapt with the rapid changes and adaptations the new economy creates. Executives are moving fast, sometimes too fast, and the organizations are left behind. Most often, we see reductions and layoffs, but no change in priorities and workloads. Too few, already overburdened people are forced to pick up the workloads of those that are left. Or, executives have shifted the priorities and strategies, but these changes have been accompanies with clear expectations of what it means to each person in the organization and their job responsibilities.

The outcome:

  • Changes that were hoped for are not implemented.
  • People are more confused, more overworked, and demoralized.
  • Customers are confused, they don’t know who to work with, what to do.
  • Things that were supposed to speed things up, making the organization more efficient are actually bogging things down.
  • Organizations are not producing the results management expected, so now
    management starts looking at further reductions—the death spiral continues.

Organizations are going through massive changes. Leaders need to help their people understand those changes and their role in executing the changes. Leaders must assure everyone is in the same boat, rowing in the same direction, and that everyone is in stroke! Organizational Effectiveness in executing the changes should be the focus of management.

In implementing these shifts, leaders should:

  • Stop and make sure they and everyone in the organization knows, understands, and has internalized the changes and their roles in implementing them.
  • Clearly identify those things that were important and used to be done
    that now must be stopped. What you stop at this time is more important than what you continue doing.
  • Explicitly redefine roles and responsibilities of everyone on board. They simply can’t pick up the workloads of others. The organization’s priorities have changed, make sure everyone knows their role in implementing the changes.
  • Redefinition of the roles and responsibilities helps to keep important things from falling through the cracks. It eliminates the issue “I thought that was Bob’s job.” It eliminated wasteful redundant efforts—two people doing the same thing.
  • Communicate your new strategies, priorities, roles and responsibilities to your customers. Make sure any changes you implement make it easier for your customers to buy from you, to get their questions answered, and to get service from you.
  • Identify and establish new metrics that support the changes in strategy, priorities, and roles. The old metrics are probably no longer appropriate. After all, they were based on a completely different set of organizational assumptions.
  • Monitor–but don’t micromanage, but be aware people may still be confused, feel overwhelmed, or haven’t internalized the changes. The moment you see problems cropping up, jump on them, clarifying priorities, strategies and the new roles.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate—to your people, your customers, and suppliers. Make certain they aren’t confused, make sure they are aligned.

Alignment is critical to every organization. When making changes that many organizations are doing, making sure everyone in the organization, your customers and suppliers are in the same boat, going in the same direction —- aligned—-is critical to success. One of the best tools we have seen to help organizations do this quickly and effectively is the Organizational Effectiveness Profile (OEP).

Organizations are going through massive changes. Speed is critical, but only if everyone is aligned, focused and working together as effectively as possible. Make sure you take the time to get everyone in the boat!

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3 Comments
  1. Anonymous permalink

    Dave, this article is important and well timed. The OEP was a great tool in helping Scorpion Sports better focus and intensify the execution of our newly revised strategy. We had been growing so fast, we didn’t realize people weren’t working together as effectively as possible—it was in fact slowing us down, confusing us and confusing our dealers. The OEP was a great and impersonal way to identify the most critical issues and engage the team in fixing it! Thanks for a great post!

  2. ScorpionKing permalink

    Dave, this article is timely and important. The OEP was a great tool in helping Scorpion Sports better focus and intensify the execution of our newly revised strategy. We had been growing so quickly, we didn’t realize people weren’t working together (and keeping up) as effectively as possible—it was in fact slowing us down, confusing us and confusing our dealers. The OEP was a great way to objectively identify the most critical issues and engage the team in fixing it! Thanks for a great post.

  3. Dave Brock's Blog permalink

    ScorpionKing: Thanks for taking the time to post. It was a great project for your company, plus everyone was great to work with.

    Scorpion was dealing with the challenges of hyper growth. I think approaches like this are even more important for some of those companies that are going through major cutbacks and changes. Thanks for the comment!

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