One challenge of leadership is to get everybody to work in the same direction, towards the same goals, this is not always easy and I am writing this to help you in middle management. Middle management often find themselves in a squeeze between loyalty to their employees and loyalty to the leadership. So what do you do to help implement loyalty to the new vision statement?
It is easier to get to your destination if you have a map in your possession, and you might even have instructions as well, on how to get there. Do you walk? Take the bus? Or is there any other ways to your goals?
To place all employees on the same map, with the same directions and same instructions is the easy part. Getting all employees to understand it and follow the plan is the hard part. If you place ten people in a city, tell them to get from A to B, and how to get there, you might end up with several different solutions. Some might take shortcuts, some might get lost and some might even end up in the total opposite direction. To communicate what you want is not the same as them understanding what you want.
Include employees from the start
A good way to get employees to do what you want is to get them to come up with the idea in the first place. This will ensure ownership and engagement. Select a group of employees to brainstorm. If given all information needed they might come up with something similar as you might have planned to begin with or even something better.
The river runs wild
You can change the course of the river, you can build a dam and you can change it in any way you like. But if you do it wrong you will just change the route of the river, create a flood or burst the dam creating massive damage. The river will find the easiest way down the mountain. Employees do the same; they will find the easiest way to do their job as well. And when it comes to change, the easiest way is the old way.
Message to employees: If you feel like doing stuff the old way, you might not know all there is to it. You might not understand why the change is necessary. Go talk to your manager and get a more in depth explanation.
Message to leaders: If employees are tending to get back to old habits, you might have missed out explaining WHY. Or you might have failed on displaying HOW, or your idea might just be bad.
What to do in case of emergency?
Did you just get a memo about a vision or goals? Can you relate to them? Call your crew in to a meeting and brainstorm around the memo.
- Do all staff members relate to the vision?
- How will this vision influence the department?
- What should your department’s goals be?
- What must be done to be able to reach these goals?
- Are we all in the same boat here?
- How should you work to be loyal to the new vision?
In this way you and your co-workers identify a lighthouse for your crew, and they will have some ownership to the “vision by memo”.
Worst case scenario!
You are shaking your head, banging it on the desktop. You have just received a memo with visions, values and goals you can’t relate to? What would you do?
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* this is a re-writing of an old blog post, might look familiar, but it’s much better now…