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This month's topic: Is Your Organization Vital?

July 26, 2005      
Topics of Trust and Leadership, from the authors of The Trusted Leader


The Trusted Leader

Previous Issues:

Is Your Organization Vital?

Developing a Community of Future Leaders

Thoughtful Leader or Trusted Leader?


Next month's issue: The Building Blocks for a Vital Organization, Part II


Last month we asked Is Your Organization Vital? Vitality is what makes a company worth working for. And as a trusted leader, you know that fostering a vital environment is a critical responsibility.

So how can you foster vitality in your own organization, whether it’s a large corporation, small firm, church, or even a summer camp? Naturally, your enthusiasm has a lot to do with it. But to help direct your enthusiasm, get familiar with the building blocks for a vital organization.

The authors of The Trusted LeaderIn this article we’ll discuss the first three of seven building blocks for a vital organization.

What are you doing August 2? You're invited to join Rob's Trusted Advisor co-author Charlie Green for a webinar on Trusted Advisor Relationships and Trust-based Selling. The 1-hour talk will include material from Charlie's new book, Trust-based Selling (coming this December, from McGraw-Hill), as well as some key concepts from The Trusted Advisor.

Sign up for the free webinar at: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=47857&cbClass=6800&signupkey=2659
It's at 12:00 noon EST, 9:00AM PST, August 2.

As always, your feedback and comments on this newsletter are welcome at info@trustedleader.com.

-Rob and Anne-

7 Building Blocks for a Vital Organization, Part I

We’ve identified seven building blocks of vitality – and we’ve found that the more of them an organization has, the more likely that workplace is to be teeming with vigor. The first three are:

Know What Makes the Business Tick

It’s essential that people throughout the organization clearly understand the profit and margin formulae that make the business tick.

In other words, if you’re in the airline business, your employees, one and all, should understand the calculations of revenue and cost per available seat-mile. If you are in the semiconductor business, everyone should understand the critical importance of book-to-bill ratios.

“The more of these building blocks an organization has, the more likely that workplace is likely to be teeming with vigor.”

One small way to do this? We’ve seen companies use excerpts from industry reports – cut, pasted, and distributed to each employee -- very effectively to that end. We’ve also seen companies take out subscriptions to various industry reports for key employees – making it clear that those employees might be expected at some point to hold their own in a conversation about the contents. One company we know of has even used a regular five-question “quiz” – emailed to everyone in the organization – to boost understanding of what makes the business tick. A small reward is offered to the first person to reply with the correct answers. After the reward is won, the answers are sent in a subsequent “send-all” email.

Know the Performance Indicators and Rewards

Does everyone in your organization clearly understand the key performance indicators and rewards? This follows on the formulae described above, but takes it one step further.

What are the most important things to measure in your company and your industry? Could everyone in the organization name those things? Is there a link between those measurements and the way rewards and bonuses are handled at your company? Does everyone understand the link between the two?

One marketing company we studied offers special rewards organization-wide when certain performance goals are met. When the company signed its 1200th client, for example, everyone in the organization received 250 share options.

Delineate Roles and Responsibilities

There should be a clear delineation of roles and responsibilities. Does everyone understand who does what and why? Or do areas exist where the boundaries are blurred?

We know that in today’s world, it’s a given that organization charts change rapidly. At the same time, though, it’s important for employees to know where to turn when they have a particular question, problem, or need. A client of ours posted a list of the people in charge of various functions on its intranet, but then failed to maintain it, to the point that some people were still listed as vice president of this or that for months after they had left the organization.

One option? A “Go To” chart, updated and distributed regularly, or posted on the intranet. Less complicated than a map of who’s who in the organization, this chart simply lists a variety of problems, concerns, or possible situations, with the correct person to contact posted alongside. It can be as simple as “If you have a problem about X, Go To Leslie. If you have a question about Y, Go To Lynn.” These charts are often created for the company as a whole; they can be equally effective on a smaller scale, say, at the departmental level.

Stay tuned for our August issue, when we discuss building blocks 4 and 5, Understand How Business is Done and Prepare for Exceptions.

If you have something to say about organizational vitality let us know.

~ ~ ~

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