The current disruption of COVID-19 to businesses worldwide have many leaders scrambling to adjust plans and processes to keep operations afloat. Many are wondering if they’ll come close to meeting end-of-year results.
Some very innovative ideas have surfaced from this disruption. And that’s good thing. The question is, how do leaders gain alignment to move quickly on new ideas—especially when the usual touch points throughout the workday have either transformed or are all but gone in our remote working environment.
Added to this strain is the uncertainty of what tomorrow, next week, or next month will look like. As leaders question the viability of their businesses, employees are anxious about what the economic fallout could look like personally. These feelings are anchored by the very real concern over the health of our loved ones and ourselves.
It’s pretty natural that employees feel compelled right now to keep up morale—at least on the surface. They might be grateful to still have a job and not want to not push back when their boss provides direction. But now is not the time for people to be silent or hold back. All our previously established goals and strategies are obsolete because we’ve never experienced a situation like this before. Businesses need ideas from far and wide to help solve the unprecedented challenges they face today.
Right now, it’s critical that leaders are very intentional about getting people aligned. Gratefully, we’ve developed and tested a process for fostering leadership alignment. Following this process gives employees a positive platform to voice their ideas and concerns, and gives leaders the ability to gather ideas, insights, and data they need before charging forward in a new direction.
Before establishing a new process or launching an innovative campaign, ensure that you have the right people involved in the discussion and sign off. This sounds intuitive, but it’s where many projects fail. This means carefully selecting representatives from pockets in your organization that involved in execution. Without the right representation, your project might hit a roadblock that you could’ve avoided otherwise. Conversely, if there are too many cooks in the kitchen, the process could slow for lack of agreement.
Teams don’t make decisions; leaders make decisions. However, teams help leaders make good decisions. To distribute accountability, identify a decision maker. Everyone identified in step one participates in the discussion; but at the end of the meeting, the decision maker has the final vote.
Hear all participants prior to reaching or implementing a decision. This is where feedback is crucial. If there are any concerns or doubts with ideas that are being suggested, they must first be addressed to confirm that the decision being made is the best one for the team.
After a decision is made, all participants actively promote it. It’s critical that each person involved adopts the decision and treats it as if it were their own. There might not be complete agreement over the final decision, but there must be complete alignment in carrying it out. Check in with participants to confirm they are aligned.
The “message” regarding the decision must be consistently communicated to all appropriate individuals. To maintain alignment and company-wide accountability, everyone must know their role in reaching that result.
6. Follow Up
All participants must follow up to ensure alignment is maintained. Consistent feedback and reporting allow your team to adjust any parts of the new process that might not be working. This sixth principle keeps your team agile and ready to shift focus where it is needed.
As most businesses have transitioned to working remotely, maintaining alignment between leadership and the remainder of your company is more important than ever. Leaders should aim to communicate adjustments the business is making considering fast-changing market conditions, as well as give people the opportunity to feel heard. Facilitating discussion during this moment leads to greater focus and alignment.
Leading During Uncertainty
Moments of uncertainty and disruption present us with a choice. Choosing to focus on what we control is so much more empowering and hopeful than to be victim to the uncertainty or anxiety we as a society now face.
We’re here to support you, as individuals and as organizations, navigate these challenges.