Steven Covey warned against the danger of climbing a ladder only to discover that you climbed the wrong ladder. Worse, if you and your team are trying to climb different ladders, you won't make it to the top of any ladder, because you'll be working at cross purposes. Are you and your leadership team clear about who you are, what you want, where you're going, i.e., what ladder you're climbing? Just a few of the many symptoms of lack of alignment and clarity include:
- poor (failed) hiring decisions
- internal discord, high turnover
- stagnation (aka being stuck)
If you and your team don't seem to be making progress or if people are bickering or working in silos, rather than cooperating and collaborating, you're likely not aligned behind a shared vision. You don't know which ladder you're climbing.
How can you find out if you're addressing a symptom or an underlying problem? This is the time to follow the symptom upstream with an organizational assessment or root cause analysis. For example, are you having trouble keeping good people? If so, why? You might think people are leaving for more pay and benefits. That's often the reason they'll give you, but it's rarely the primary reason. More likely you're not selecting the right people or training them well. Why not? Now you're approaching the real problem...lack of clarity about who you are, what you want, where you're going and the people and skills you need to climb the right ladder.
Should you address the symptoms? Sure, but fix the cause first. Invest the time and resources necessary to agree on your vision, mission, core values, the goals you want to achieve, the strategies you'll use to achieve them and your timeline. Now execute your plan. Relentlessly and collaboratively. Part of your plan - in the scenario above - will be to align your hiring and supervising with your vision, values, goals, etc. If you stray from your plan (and you will), hold yourself accountable and return to your plan. If someone else strays (and they will), hold them accountable to return to the plan. If you're executing your plan and not achieving the results you expected, re-evaluate and modify your plan (but don't change course too soon).
When you and your leadership team are aligned, you work seamlessly, collaboratively and cooperatively, with little or no wasted effort. You're not pushing against each other, but pulling together. How much wasted effort would that eliminate? How much more would you accomplish, if you're all working to achieve the same vision, the same goals? Is your team aligned to climb the same ladder, the right ladder?