In the second in our series of posts on creating alignment, we’re going to start with the first and most important step. Why?

So, let’s start with ‘Why’. Why are you doing what you’re doing? What is the point of it?

Is your vision and your common purpose clear and can everyone articulate it? Does everyone, even the 8 hour a week part timer understand it? If they can’t then you’re not putting it in simple enough language in every medium, at every level within your organisation.

In Start with Why – by Simon Sinek, he talks about the Golden Circle, and how we follow and buy into great leaders and great companies. They believe in why they do what they do so we follow that passion; so let’s look at that.

What is your vision?

What do you want your business to achieve in 5 years, 10 years, 30 years? What is your goal, what will make you unique? How will you stand out from the crowd? You need to hone this idea, test it and get feedback on your vision. Ask your team if they understand, and if they agree with it. This last bit is important, because if your team don’t have the same vision as you, they won’t drive it for you.

Common Purpose

Once you know what you want to achieve – your vision; then ask – do we have a common purpose?

Your thinking – what does that mean? A common purpose is “a group having the same purpose or intent in some action or series of actions.” Basically does everyone in your business know why they are doing what they are doing, and all pulling in the same direction? Does the common purpose for your company also work for your customer service team, your sales team, your buying team? Or do they all need their own common purpose to make sure they know exactly why their team is there and how they contribute to the business?

Now there is no point just thinking one up and saying “this is our common purpose”. Everyone in that team needs to be involved in defining and agreeing the common purpose (we can help you with that – we’re great facilitators!). So get your team together and talk about why you really are there, and what you should be doing.

Communicate

Once you have these 2 things in place, you need to communicate them throughout your business, and replicate creating common purpose in every team if necessary. And when you do that, you need to be very clear!

Very often as leaders and business owners, we are not clear enough. We sit at the top of our business, we dress things up in fancy language to make ourselves sound more important and use buzz words and jargon which we think people “buy into” but, you know what, they doesn’t understand it.

Often your team members don’t have time to read their emails. Therefore why should they read and understand any other complicated document you may send? Your employees want to come in to a place where they enjoy working, do a good job, look at the job list for the day and get on with what they have to do. They don’t buy into all that corporate speak and they doesn’t necessarily always understand it.

It is vitally important when we are communicating within our businesses that we use regular, everyday language that is free of jargon. Otherwise the message gets lost somewhere in the ether, and as business leaders we wonder why on earth our teams are not doing what we asked them to do.

The reason is simple – the message you thought you gave them was not the one they received. So you need to make it simple when you communicate to your team as they may be many organisational layers below you, and the message has to travel well, not like Chinese whispers!

You need to think about using clear, simple language to really tell your team members why and what you need them to do. And you need to think about how you deliver this message and make sure it’s in the easiest format for them, not you.

So to start creating alignment in our businesses, let’s first of all think about why we do what we do. Let’s get that common purpose and vision correct, and above all, let’s tell people about this clearly, simply and with passion!

Next time ….Skills shortage or just the wrong people?