Coherence – A Secret Ingredient to Aligning Goals, Priorities, Actions, and Attention
What if there was a magic concept that you could employ that would powerfully align your company’s goals, priorities, actions, and culture?
In other words, your company would invest its best resources in alignment with its top goals. And each of your team would act daily in accordance with these priorities, letting these priorities and agreed upon objectives guide their actions and execution. And finally, as a company, you’d hold to this discipline long enough that this pattern of behavior would become the norm for your company.
Well there is just such a magic concept and it’s called “coherence”. Coherence is a term from physics that refers to light ways being in sync with each other—strengthening and reinforcing each other.
In the context of your business, coherence means the core parts of your business all being aligned and in sync with one another – supporting and reinforcing each other.
Too many companies have great goals on paper, but simply don’t act in alignment with those goals, or their stated priorities and values. Instead, these underperforming companies allow their efforts to become fractured and scattered, often working at counterpoint to each other.
The most successful companies get all their moving parts working in alignment with each other to achieve their top objectives in a manner consistent with their core values and priorities.
While this is a simple concept to understand in theory, it is a difficult one to apply in practice.
Here are 10 tips to help you bring your company’s goals, priorities, actions and culture into coherence:
1. Get clear on your goals and priorities. As obvious as it sounds, many companies perform poorly and are scattered simply because they don’t have clear goals and priorities.
2. Propagate your goals and priorities throughout your organization. It’s not enough to have goals and priorities, you’ve got to make sure your team understands and buys into them.
3. Spot check to see if your team really understands your goals and priorities. Ask them, “Paul, what do you see as our company’s top three goals?” If you discover, as you likely will, that what you thought was simple and clear was neither, use this as an opportunity to coach and redirect.
4. Help your team connect their department and individual goals and priorities to the company’s. While it’s great to have “two top goals as a company”, but what does that mean to your operations manager? How about to your accounting department? And your sales team? You’ve got to make sure that you bring your goals and priorities into context for each of your team members and departments.
5. Translate your team member and department goals and priorities into observable behaviors and concrete action steps. How will they know they are operating in alignment with your company goals and priorities? What will they do over the next 90 days – behaviorally – that will progress the company and is in alignment with these goals and priorities? You’ve got to make it concrete and behavioral.
6. Get your management team to review company and department behavior at least monthly (ideally bi-weekly) to make sure it is in alignment with company goals and priorities. If it isn’t (which is likely to be the case initially) use this as an opportunity to coach and redirect.
7. Accept that for most companies, this is going to be a long, slow process of applying gentle pressure – relentlessly. Over time, you will be able to shape the behaviors and norms for your company so that this “aligned” behavior becomes part of our company culture.
8. Highlight stories and successes of how individuals, teams, departments, or the company as a whole acted in alignment with its goals and priorities. Shaping culture requires lots of small “nudges”. Look for any reasonable excuse to give things one more nudge.
9. Role model the behavior you want your team to internalize. If you aren’t consistent with what you’re asking them to do, they’ll spot it in an instant and you’ll lose all credibility.
10. Use tough, emotional moments as examples of how serious your company is to live its goals and priorities. A tough decision in alignment with your company values and priorities will have more impact on your real culture than any dozen “easy” moves you make.
Is all of this easy? No. Is it worthwhile? You bet it is.
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