"We need to get everyone on the same page." I’m fairly certain that you’ve uttered that phrase at least once. The most revealing question? How often do you make that statement in your company? Let's probe deeper into what conditions prompt the need to feel that way. The prevailing conditions typically center on inconsistency in the execution of tasks, poorly defined expectations, conflicting agendas, indifference and general frustration - whose origin can be traced directly back to compromise at the leadership level.
When leaders say, "We need to get everyone on the same page," it must first be acknowledged as a leadership issue - not a "they" issue. Leaders are the keepers of the "page" that contains the vision, mission and game plan. In these days of empowerment, inclusiveness and sense of ownership, the team may play a vital role in creating the page, but the ultimate accountability for executing what's on that page rests squarely on the shoulders of leadership. All it takes are a few distractions to divert a leader's attention away from the page for it to get lost in a pile of other seemingly important pages.
Here are some no-compromise strategies for you to keep everyone on your team on the same page:
- Build a new page: You’ve already forgotten the old page, and therefore, so did everyone on your team. Start with the big picture. What's critical for your company to achieve in the next 12 months? Is your company up to its eyeballs in crisis? Then, what's that one big hurdle it must overcome? Meeting and exceeding that singular objective what that page is all about. If your company is cruising along just fine, then the objective for your page should be a mission to push it out of its comfort zone. Comfort zones are danger zones. Build and get on the same page.
- A page, not a book: What, why, how, the score. These are the components of a page everyone can understand. Your page should be the equivalent sticking a pin on a map to define the destination. Describe the destination in terms of market position, revenues, critical numbers and specific outcomes that must exist to proclaim victory. You know where you are now, so what's the plan to get to the destination? You must keep score via a rapid and thorough information-flow system. Once you build your page, you can create playbooks to map out the details. But it's that first page that everyone needs to be on. Put your energy, focus and innovative thinking into building the page that everyone rallies around.
- Your no-compromise commitment: I guarantee that members of your team will say, "Yeah, we've heard this before and nothing changed." Translation: It's you who has a track record of lots of starts and few finishes. Your shiny new page is nothing without your team's belief and trust in your commitment to see the initiative through to success. Yes, your team may trust you on smaller commitments, but when it comes to the big stuff, chances are they want to believe in you but fear disappointment because of your history of dropping the ball. You're the only one who can build trust.
- The challenge of accountability: In many ways, getting on the same page is a form of a company culture shift. It requires organization, rules of engagement, assurance that procedures are followed, innovation to overcome the inevitable challenges, and self-management. Holding teams and individuals accountable to the agreed upon outcomes is the work of leadership. The process of holding oneself and others accountable is a virtual minefield of emotional and human-relations obstacles. Accountability is something leaders must walk up to and through. Too many leaders begin to hesitate to as they walk up to address accountability issues. They fear confrontation because they lack the coaching skills to engage in accountability conversations. If this describes you, you are ready to find enlightenment through coaching.
- Let information flow: Nothing builds unity and rallies everyone onto the same page better than information flow. Something as simple as fast daily huddles to communicate where you are and what needs to be done today is a non-negotiable essential to keep the information flowing. The combined power of daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly information and strategy sessions - all focused on that same page - is what information flow is all about. Add leadership check-ins and hands-on interaction with team members and you have an information-flow system that supports same-page thinking and performance.
Getting and keeping everyone on the same page is what leadership is all about - and where leadership is most prone to inconsistency. And getting everyone on the same page is something that a leadership coach can help you do faster and more efficiently than you can on your own. I'm not selling coaching - I'm just stating fact.
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Neil Ducoff, Founder & CEO
About: Neil Ducoff is the founder and CEO of Strategies. Since 1993, Strategies has been transforming salon and spa businesses into dynamic, profitable, and sustainable team-based cultures. Neil is a business trainer, coach, keynote speaker and award-winning author. For more information on Neil and Strategies, go to www.strategies.com. You can email Neil at [email protected].