Like many professionals, my job requires expertise in data and analytics. For me, this is great, because I’m an executive consultant and coach who loves analyzing data, and I deal with C-Suite executives who demand a strong ROI. As I move through an organization, I frequently find managers who are in incredibly important middle-management positions who lack the vital data their supervisors possess.
Our firm’s research has found this dynamic in hundreds of organizations of all types, including corporations, privately-held firms, nonprofits, and faith-based organizations. These findings in our studies are valid and relevant because they are indexed on 24 identical organizational performance indicators. This provides our clients—and you, our readers—with a benchmark to improve your organization’s health and growth.
To make insightful decisions, you need more than basic information and gut instincts. Although these experiences help you manage, they don’t zero in on the four growth drivers you need to build your organization. Fortunately, I have had the opportunity and the time to work with some brilliant and enlightened CEOs. They focus on improving their organizations regardless of what their data might show. With this data in hand, here are four drivers from our research of high-performance organizations that every manager should understand.
Driver 1. Organizational performance starts with alignment
To rethink an organization’s alignment, the leadership team must be willing to assess its employees, processes and systems honestly. These factors, along with many related marketplace issues, all impact an organization’s alignment. The need for a fully aligned organization is compounded by today’s fast-paced marketplace, where rapid change is the standard.
There are no shortcuts to success. All market sectors are being impacted, and many need to consider significant organizational transformations in response to new market demands. For example, online education has opened up new markets and has also created an environment that all educational institutions must address to remain relevant. An organization that has not aligned itself to these realities has little chance to stay current. This change is both exciting and challenging.
Driver 2. Integration brings everyone together
Every organization that seeks high performance needs integration of purpose and action. All too often, organizations have a set of stated goals and strategies but lack the culture to implement them. This can lead to a “Putting out the fires” mentality.
Organizational integration is the process of implementing a well-defined — and aligned — set of goals, values and operations. Organizations without strong integration cannot effectively execute plans. It can neither make quick decisions nor deliver on them. Moreover, this will inevitably lead to business losses.
Timing is everything in so many internal decisions. As a result, organizations that can confidently choose productive directions will deliver faster, better results. Integration produces decisions that are based on aligned purposes and values. When all team members know what should be done for the best outcome, decisions flow naturally.
Implementing integration throughout an organization keeps everyone informed and up-to-date with critical information needed to serve the common goal. Also, integration increases an organization’s ability to respond to external changes, such as economic factors, technological advances, and political and cultural shifts — all factors a nimble organization can address.
Driver 3. Awareness
An organization needs to build and maintain awareness of its goals and values among employees and customers. This will take time if an organization has been functioning in silos for years.
Organizational awareness means that all employees understand the organization’s operations, culture, mission, values, and their strategic position in the market. Once an organization has a strong alignment and deep integration of purpose at full throttle, it can confidently drive awareness to create a clear path to success.
For an organization to build awareness, all of these factors need to be understood by all employees. This requires a level of understanding that goes beyond merely doing daily routines and tasks. It means that everyone has an in-depth knowledge of the organization’s strategic positioning and knows how to deliver it.
Another benefit of high awareness is that hiring new employees is more natural and increases employee retention. Employees place a high value on organizations that possess great purpose and provide opportunities to contribute. When employees understand and believe in their organization’s mission — what it stands for and why it’s important — they respond in positive, proactive ways that add value, and this drives even higher awareness.
Driver 4. Relevance
Once an organization is aligned and integrated, with a high degree of awareness of its goals and values, it can focus on market relevance. Only a solidly built organization can deliver programs, products and services that will thrive in the marketplace.
The fourth driver for building a healthy and growing organization is relevance. This is the final step after an organization has been aligned, integrated on all levels, and its awareness is well-known in-house and in the marketplace. When these three drivers are functioning at a high level, then it’s time to address and build relevance.
Relevance in today’s uncertain business climate is key to the only real job security. Change has become the norm, and job security is the exception. These tumultuous changes impact everyone, particularly the business community, where change has become the new new.
However, this does not mean that there is no hope. Far from it. Many organizations have figured out the way to remain safe and secure. Their secret? They’ve figured out how to be relevant.
Bringing it all together
All types of organizations need the four primary growth drivers: Alignment, Integration, Awareness and Relevance. All else is a supporting point or detail. The central role of these four drivers is to produce value that spurs growth by meeting and exceeding customer needs. Therefore, an organization must align itself to its top goals and values to drive growth. When these four drivers are continuously implemented, organizational growth occurs.
To learn more about these four drivers, consider picking up a copy of my book, “ReThink, An Inside Look at Smart Organizational Strategy” on Amazon.