We must include others, provide continuous feedback, and ask questions of those who are not consistently delivering in order to drive Record Results through others. This is what inclusive environments look like when you use a strategic implementation process.
All organizations face the same challenges when you do not use a strategic implementation process. Do any of these feel familiar to you?
- people feel disconnected from each other and their leaders,
- leaders performing tasks better suited for staff and thus stealing their colleagues’ professional development opportunities,
- people in operational mindsets with no knowledge or thought of the big picture or strategic goals,
- people in a constant state of reactivity,
- crazy-makers causing chaos or confusion,
- projects that are stalled,
- teams who lack clarity about their purpose and project goals,
- zero inclusion or alignment among people and teams, and
- a lack of focus or discipline.
We must continuously and consistently provide feedback and input for those we have described above who are most likely not consistently delivering on time and on budget. This is key to a strategic implementation process.
If a leader wants to develop his or her people but doesn’t invest the time to involve and include them, then they are saying one thing and doing another.
Renowned Consultant Ram Charan said in a recent interview in CEO Magazine with David Cote of Honeywell, “Anyone can set a strategy and direct people to follow it. It’s the alignment with the leader’s intent that you must strive for.”
Record results only occur when we don’t step over these individual instances and the related nuances but instead give the gifts of inclusion and feedback consistently. When expectations are not met the situation must be addressed with the individual or team leader. This must be done immediately if feasible and if not, then at the very earliest opportunity. Leaders must give feedback in private and ask a series of questions to get to the root cause of the delay or defective work product.
If you are in the leadership role and you engage with an individual, you as the leader must take personal responsibility for their miss-step. You think, “Yikes, why would I ever be willing to do that?”
Let me share what that means exactly:
- Perhaps you were not clear in explaining your expectations?
- Maybe you did not give a deadline for the project?
- Were the necessary resources available to deliver a high-quality work-product in the available timeframe?
- Did you have an inclusive feedback loop and establish interim deadlines to check-in, confirm, and clarify expectations along the way?
- Have you, as the leader, send mixed messages in any way?
By owning part of the responsibility for the breakdown, you create the space for them also to own the role they played in this less than productive, situation.
This becomes a mentoring moment where you, as the leader, get to re-affirm the organization’s values, the team’s success factors, and your expectations. With these kinds of consistent conversations, the other party often gets clarity in a very short time frame as to whether they want to step up or self-select out of the organization. Over time new leaders will emerge. Others will self select out of their current role or even the organization. You have provided the groundwork that creates a win-win-win-win solution for everyone involved. Those that leave are able to leave with their dignity intact and their head held high.
Conflict in the workplace is the greatest single cause of stress, lost productivity, and diminished profits in the world today. When conflict is not addressed, relationships deteriorate, visions are forgotten, and execution of goals and plans becomes an afterthought. Much of this conflict comes from the failure of leaders to fully communicate and negotiate their expectations.
For leaders to create an inclusive and productive work environment where people are encouraged, empowered, and truly engaged, all expectations must be communicated in a transparent way and fully negotiated in a simple, timely manner.
- When did I step over an opportunity to provide authentic feedback and ask questions of a colleague?
- What would it take for me to get back in conversation today with that same colleague about this issue?
- Am I coming from a reactive perspective rather than a proactive perspective?
- When does my ego get in the way of taking personal responsibility for my organization’s outcomes?
- What role have I played in the challenges my organization faces? What can I do to change that?
Often we do not see our own role in these challenges. We may not have enough clarity to see how our ego masks our defense mechanisms. Often times we don’t know what we don’t know about ourselves or see clearly how we defend, justify, and rationalize our own and other people’s poor performance.
That is why I say the Strategic Leader never gets to take a day off. We must not only assess the challenges we face, but we must, on a daily basis, examine who we are being that allows our professional and personal challenges to continue unchecked.