Defining success provides direction to everyone inside and outside of your organization. Whether it’s outperforming a specific competitor, capturing a percentage of market share, achieving an industry award or credential, being the best at what you do, etc., defining success gives your team a framework within which they function. By clear, consistent and frequent communication, there is little question among your team, and others, about where your organization is headed. Here are 6 or 7 ways in which defining your organization’s success aids in achieving it and making it stick:
Inspire engagement When success is clearly defined, it provides a platform upon which leaders can tell their story. “Storytelling” is one of the current buzz words in business and there is plenty of research to back its effectiveness. Data and statistics engage the language centers of our brain. But, when numbers are fleshed out with a story multiple areas of our brain are engaged, including the sections responsible for emotion thus making the message more memorable and “sticky” for the audience. Whether your audience is comprised of your employees, customers or investors a “sticky story” keeps it in the minds of your audience and increases their engagement. With so many messages competing for our brains’ attention these days it helps to stand out.
Increased Productivity Defining success provides a framework from which people can make decisions and execute. The answer to the question, “Is this choice beneficial to our clients/organization/team, etc.?” becomes much easier to answer. People no longer flounder with decisions when the desired outcome is clearly communicated. Your team feels empowered to make clear decisions void of being micromanaged. As a result, efficiency, productivity and morale improve.
Attract & Vet Top Talent Your organization’s definition of success lends itself nicely to a great interview to determine if candidates are a good fit for your organization. Just because someone has “mad skillz” doesn’t mean they’re going to be able to play a role in your success. But, when success is defined then questions can be asked in determining if a candidate has what it takes to play a role in achieving your organization’s specific and unique definition of success. Is this goal important and inspiring to them and why? What role would they play in getting your organization to the Promised Land and how would they do it? The interview becomes much more rich and informative than a stale and unidimensional “yes or no” Q&A session.
Retain Top Talent One of the distinguishing characteristics of top-talent is that they need to know when they’re successful. They require goals and a clear direction on how to get there. When success is clearly defined in your organization, not only should this be used as part of the interview process, but it becomes a measure against which A-Players can gage their own success. High-achievers are more likely to be drawn to and remain with an organization in which they are or can become successful.
Attract Allies When leaders do the work in defining and communicating the vision of organizational success and the accompanying story, that story can be retold resulting in engagement of all sorts of resources for success - - customers tell more customers, great employees recruit more great employees, investors become interested, organizations offering complimenting products and services refer business, etc.. People can clearly understand and communicate to others what it is your organization does, increasing exposure and your success.
Critical components to success are to clearly define and communicate it. Taking the time to do so shifts the bulk of heavy lifting off the shoulders of leaders and engages many others in promoting and working toward that success. (Is that a 7th reason?)
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I’ve heard many business leaders with complaints similar to, “Why don’t my employees think for themselves?” or “Why do I always end up doing other people’s jobs?”.
As the leader/CEO/President, it’s often a big waste of time and money when you spend your time doing the job(s) of employees you’re already paying. Not to mention, you’re quite an overpaid manager. Plus, you’re likely the most passionate & qualified person in your organization to set the vision and direction. If you’re not filling that role, who is?
Unfortunately, unless your employees share your passion for your cause, it’s a long shot that you’re going to be able to genuinely motivate them consistently and for the long term. If you’re lucky, you may get occasional bursts of engagement by offering incentives and pep-talks. If you simply hire for technical competence and not for culture, I’d argue that you’re expectations are unreasonable that your employees will act and perform like a team. Instead, you’ll be hiring people who do a job from 9 to 5 to collect a paycheck. They won’t be engaged and you’ll likely be the one picking up the slack. In other words, they will be delegating to you.
How can you stop your team from delegating to you? Begin with the end in mind.
If you want your employees to be as engaged, reliable and creative as you are, you’re going to have to start by hiring people who are excited about the same cause you are. Your drive is fueled by something internal. There’s an emotional connection for you. In this respect, you’re not so unique. Human beings are hardwired to do just about whatever it takes to build, protect and advance a mission to which they are emotionally connected and is bigger than they are (eg., being a parent, athletes setting their sights on the Olympics, landing on the moon, etc.).
When everyone in your organization is excited about what your company does and why you do it, members of your team step up because they want the cause, and everyone associated with it, to succeed. They also don’t want to let their team down with their own poor performance. In other words, they willingly and enthusiastically share the load. You’ll find that they’ll even wrestle you for things on your “To Do” list so that you can focus on leading the organization.
Bear in mind that as the leader, when you’re clear about why your organization exists and where you’re headed, only then can you hire people who believe what you believe, who share your passion and are energized by your vision. Unless you’ve taken the time to define these elements and can effectively communicate them, you’re not going to be able to lead anyone in the direction of your goal or give them a reason to follow you.
Here’s your challenge: evaluate your current team and determine who is passionate about your cause. Other than a paycheck, you’re not doing anyone any favors if they’re not excited about where your organization is headed. Let them discover and pursue their passion.
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One of the most challenging feats in any organization is finding, interviewing and hiring not only the most qualified candidate for an available position, but equally as important, the most qualified candidate for your organization. The two are not the same. What’s the difference and how do you solve each challenge? Well, read on . . .
Although sometimes challenging to identify a candidate with a qualified skill set, it’s often the easier of the two tasks. Skills are often objective and can be trained. Experience is a bit more subjective, but still can be vetted by asking specific questions about past accomplishments and lessons learned. A strong interview can give the hiring company a fairly accurate idea of where the candidate has been and what they’ve accomplished. And, very little of that is going to let you know if any candidate might be a good fit for your organization.
Let’s assume you have, what you believe to be, a star candidate in front of you. You may have even actively sought them out as “a perfect fit” for the position you are looking to fill. They may even be renown as “the best” at whatever it is they do for a profession and maybe even in your specific industry - - LOTS of relevant & valuable experience! In many cases, this is where most interviews end. The candidate is hired and a few months later you have this honest and painful thought, “This just isn’t working out. They’re just not the right fit for our company”.
We’ve all been there. We hire the “perfect candidate” and they just don’t work out. Vetting culture fit is often left to chance because hiring organizations don’t know how to interview a candidate to avoid this from happening. This mystery is about to be unlocked.
Here it is:
If you doubt the importance of exploring why your company exists, your organization’s core values and your organization’s overarching goal - - if you think any of those things are “too fluffly” or existential or have nothing to do with business - - you may want to reconsider your perspective.
These 3 parts of your organization (A.K.A. your organization’s “Navigation System”) serve as your guide to, among other things, determining whether or not a candidate is the best [ insert position here ] for your organization. These puzzle pieces define the unique requirements for your organization and allow interviews to progress into a phase often ignored. The candidate’s résumé got them the interview. That’s history. Now, you need to determine if they’re willing and able to help you and your organization accomplish your specific future goals, and, if those goals are even important to them. You can only determine this if you, as the leader, have set the course. If you have, you can interview candidates not only to learn where they’ve been, but also where they’re going, and if it syncs up specifically with your organization.
Armed with your organization’s Navigation System you’re now able to determine things about candidates such as, what motivates them, can they get us to where we’re going, how can they get us to where we’re going, will they get along with other team members, can I trust them, will they hold themselves and others accountable, what innovative ideas can they develop to help us reach our goals, how will they treat our clients, etc..
Hiring the wrong person for a position is an expensive mistake. The most skilled and experienced candidate may not be the best candidate for your organization. The sooner this is figured out, the better for all involved.
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