There are two tough parts of leading an organization that no one tells you about. First: Leading means always being on the alert, never resting on your laurels and being willing to make the changes necessary to keep the organization on track. Second, you have to create a culture and environment in which your people produce the results you want.
Define “the right talent.” Defining a strategy in as much detail as possible greatly raises the odds that it will succeed. So what does “the right talent” really mean for all the jobs that need to be done? How disciplined can you be in hiring slowly? (And how quick can you be in firing the ones who aren’t right?) There are tools and databases like ProfileXT that can help you define these details and also help you determine your best job candidates. But remember that you can never use those tools as the sole criteria for hiring.
Hire for attitude and train for skill. How many times have you heard a successful sports executive say that their team goes after the best athlete first? Part of their criteria for defining “the best athlete” is the attitude they show in playing their sport, including coachability and willingness to learn the system.
Match the right talent with the right jobs. The more you can define each job in detail, the greater the chance that you will be able to put the right people in those jobs. Again, there are tools that can predict the match of a person’s skills, attitude and behavior to a specific job. If there is a shortfall in skill, there can be clarity in what training needs to be done to raise performance. Remember that you can train someone who has the potential to perform a job, but you can’t train a person to be something they’re not.
Define “the right things” that need to be done. This task may be the most complex of all. Most of the time, the right things are defined narrowly within the scope of the job. But to the extent that every job is connected with other jobs in an entire value chain that goes from customer order to delivery, the list of right things must include what has to be done so that the jobs along the chain can be done correctly.
Create a successful, sustainable culture. If you can put all the tasks listed above into action and add one more, you have built a solid platform for a successful and sustainable culture. The additional task is to create an internal Wiki that enables all employees to have input into the design of the work they do so that the company objectives for customer satisfaction and the resulting revenue and profit targets can be met. The Wiki becomes the company database for how things get done. It becomes a powerful on-boarding and training tool for new employees, and for existing employees entering new jobs. This whole process creates a culture of engaged employees who are empowered not only to do their jobs correctly but also to improve work processes. The employees are engaged because they understand their roles, they know how what they do every day contributes to the success of their company, and they have something desired by every one of us: an appropriate amount of control over their own circumstances. The platform also gives your company the chance to have a performance evaluation system that everyone understands and trusts.
Lead with your vision and keep your eye on the horizon. Articulate the vision you have for your company as often as necessary, until you hear it coming back from everyone you ask. The vision creates the context in which everything is done and all decisions are made. Keeping your eye on the horizon will make sure that the vision is still relevant.