Is there anyone reading this blog who answers to no one but who runs an enterprise with more than 20 employees? If you meet these two rare but simple criteria, you might like to refrain from reading the rest of this blog as I’m talking about you – and not always in glowing terms.
For the majority of us, though, we are not at the top of the pecking order, but we do have others who respond to us and for whose performance and well-being we are held accountable.
Now here’s a strange thing.
We complain about the way we are treated by our superiors, but equally our subordinates complain about us! And nine times out of ten, both ourselves and our subordinates are complaining about the same things!
What are they?
- Management do not adequately consider the detailed implications of their strategic plans to assess their realism and practicality
- Management do not explain the rationale behind the planned changes
- Management do not involve those charged with the strategy implementation at the strategic planning stage
- Management do not set clear realistic targets
- Communication and feedback is lacking at both the pre and post strategic planning stages
- When some aspect of the strategic plan is clearly not working as intended, it’s those charged with the strategy implementation that get the blame
I could go on but these are six of the most common. Now, if lower management blames middle management, who in turn blame senior management, where does the buck stop? With the CEO of course! And the most important role of the CEO? Contrary to what most people think, it’s not to get the strategy right – it’s to create the culture in the organisation necessary for effective execution. And there is only one way to do that and that’s by example – personal example.
If you don’t consult and involve your fellow executives, you must expect them to commit the same omission with their own reports. If you do not stress the importance of communication and feedback, your senior management won’t either. If you take the view that only senior management need to be conversant with the Big Picture they will keep middle and lower management in the dark as well. The CEO sets the tone.
What sort of organisation do you want to lead? One that is beset with internal politics? One where beating the internal competition takes precedence over winning against external rivals? One where management at all levels bitches and complains about the lack of involvement and lack of communication?
Or do you want to lead an organisation that is aligned behind a common goal, one that exhibits a sense of community, one that truly values its employees and for whom people are happy to work?
Surely no one would want to lead the former? Yet the former is all too common. The reality is that in any market sector there are a limited number of strategies that the organisation can adopt. The key to performance is strategy implementation. I am reminded yet again of the Harvard Business Professor who asked his students – “what do hospitals do?” His students responded – “they cure the sick”. “No, nurses and doctors do that”, was the Professor’s counter response. “The role of the hospital is to create the environment in which the best doctors and nurses want to work”.
What’s the environment like in your organisation?