Congruence is critical in business. In fact, when leadership isn’t aligned with goals, all kinds of things go wrong. But it’s not just business goals that need to be aligned, it’s the actions behind those goals that really matter. When your actions are incongruent with the bigger picture or the message, it’s no surprise to anyone when things aren’t getting done. So, what about your organization? Are you setting your business up for success or failure?
Avoid Sending Mixed Messages
Mixed messaging is everywhere in the modern organization, and it’s no wonder why people are confused. Organizations claim, “We want you to take risks” and “We want to empower you to do the right thing”, yet frequently when someone slips or makes a mistake, they get chastised, hammered or even fired. We do these incongruent things all the time without even recognizing it. We ask one thing, and then we penalize people for doing it. We say we want “this,” but then we don’t have the systems in place to support it.
It really is pretty simple – say what you mean and mean it when you say it. Make sure your messaging is congruent with your actions.
Set People Up to Succeed, Not Fail
If our folks aren’t doing what they’re supposed to, there’s only three possible reasons:
- They don’t want to,
- They don’t know how, or
- We won’t let them
Now, many will say, “What do you mean, ‘we won’t let them?’” Of course we’ll let them. “We won’t let them” here means the processes in the organization aren’t set up for them to succeed. For example, if a clearly stated objective of your business is to increase topline revenue, then why is your sales team spending almost half of their time on administrative tasks? Here’s a nifty idea, let’s take those sales people and have them spend 90+% of their time actually selling. Find another way to do the administrative work. Imagine what you could accomplish.
This is not cutting edge thinking.
Unfortunately, we also have incentives that are incongruent. An incentive for more effective margins or profitability is great. If profitability is your goal and then you turn around and tell your team that due to some short-term constraints (bank covenants, impending credit renewal, etc.), we’ll be sacrificing margins for cash, you’re defeating the purpose. It’s not setting you’re people up for success. You’re talking about one goal and acting on one completely at odds.
Setting people up to succeed involves making sure more than your goals are aligned. It’s about keeping your actions in line as well. It doesn’t have to be overly complex, if you say you’re going to do something, do it.
It’s as simple as that.