Most employees tend to work harder, think more clearly, and are more willing to come up with ideas when they believe that they are being heard, when they feel that management is considering their concerns or options, being available and open to new ideas, to concerns, and even to potential risks and problems that could pose a threat to the business.
If you want to build an organizational structure and alignment that will strengthen your business, then there are some things that you can put in place to make them work.
- Establish a team to accept ideas, concerns, complaints, and issues. This team should be engineered to listen and account for any and all topics that employees bring up.
Since employees are the soldiers who are on the front lines of the daily war for victory, trying to earn consumer or client confidence and build a reliable and viable brand identity for the company, there will be any number of topics that they come up with that could be quite relevant to the success of the business as a whole.
Of course, there will also likely be a number of issues that are raised that have nothing to do with improving the company, but more about dealing with personal issues, such as leave, sick time, maternity time, extra breaks during the day, and so on. Should these issues be discounted because they don’t affect the company’s bottom line? That’s entirely up to the individual leader of the organization, but it’s best to keep in mind that if there are a number of issues being raised by different departments, then this could directly affect productivity, which certainly becomes an issue throughout the organization.
Employees tend to react positively when they feel that the alignment of a company is done in such a way that they aren’t cut off or isolated from the upper-level management. They feel more empowered and that tends to inspire creative thinking and the sharing of ideas.
- Address your employees on a somewhat regular basis.
Don’t let your employees forget who you are as a leader. Some industry leaders are so busy that they are constantly traveling, meeting with other business leaders and department heads, and they don’t take the time to connect with the employees further down on the food chain. Memos are fine for some things, but these tend to be quite impersonal, especially with larger companies. If you want to make a significant impact on those whom you lead, then take a few minutes throughout the year, or maybe every couple of months, to walk through different departments. Shake hands with employees, try your hardest to remember names, and encourage them to share their ideas. Let them know that you and the other managers of the company want to hear what they have to say.
This will go a long way toward establishing a positive relationship and will signify that the structure within the organization is a two-way street and that the company survives and relies on the front line associates just as much as it relies on the decision makers up there in the corner offices.
- Meet with department heads regularly.
The last thing any leader wants to do is micromanage. Yet when you are not in contact with your department leaders, then how do you know what is truly going on within your own organization? The answer is simple: you don’t.
This leads to the main idea here, and that is that alignment within your business relies on more than one-direction of communication. Think about your car for a moment. The front wheels of any car are aligned so that the vehicle travels in a straight line. When one of the wheels is out of adjustment, then the car will tend to pull to one side of the road or the other. This doesn’t mean that you are going to crash, of course, but it means that an adjustment needs to be made.
What happens if you don’t make that adjustment? For the most part, you will be working harder than perhaps you should have to in order to keep the car going in a straight line, plus your tires are going to wear down faster, especially on one part of the tire because of this misalignment.
Successful Business Execution is about alignment. These ideas are only suggestions. They are only meant to get the thought process flowing. There are a hundred different possibilities that any business can use to build stronger structures and alignments within the company. The key is to develop the right ones.
What happens if you ignore the organizational structure? Or the alignment? What happens if all you do is rely on the basic concept and design of organizations as a whole?
Basically, the business will keep running. It will keep on chugging along, just like that car cruising down the highway. You just hold the steering wheel a bit tighter, pull it away from its natural drift and this will cause you to become a bit more fatigued.
Over time, the tires will wear out, the alignment will get worse, and then you will eventually have no choice but to address the issue. By then, likely there will be more things wrong that require attention and that will cost you money.
Business is all about money. The bottom line is money. Focusing on the immediate cost savings won’t help your company grow and move into the future. It may help the bottom line now, it may help boost stock prices, and it may keep some people in their positions. For now.
But the future is coming. It’s always rolling on in and if you close yourself off to it, if you fail to listen to those soldiers bleeding on the battlefield for you, then you will often lose the battle, and ultimately the war. If you care to listen, if you care to share in ideas from those around you, but your organization or your leadership structure is not aligned to allow these ideas to reach you, then that is essentially the same as closing yourself off to those ideas.
Make a decision to step up and let your employees be heard. It will make a significant difference.