Jack Welch’s Most Often Asked Question

By August 15, 2015General News

A few weeks ago I attended a book signing for the Welch’s new book, The Real Life MBA. While there, I heard them mention that they’ve spoken to approximately one million people in Q&A sessions since 2001. The question most often asked:

“Why is it so darn hard to get everyone on the same page?” or “Why is it so difficult to get everyone playing on the same team?”

Their response: “This dilemma is not only fixable, it can be prevented,” they explain. “All it takes is alignment and leadership.”

Let’s look at alignment — the surprise enemy of alignment, and three elements to get your team all rowing in the same direction.

The Welchs suggest that alignment consists of three elements: missionbehaviors, and consequences. It sounds simple, right? What insidious enemy disrupts alignment and the productivity therein? According to the Welchs, “Work, the infernal to-do list, gets in the way . . . work feels like it should come first.”

That’s right: Your work is killing alignment in the workplace. The day-to-day of getting tasks done derails your team.

I’ve worked with numerous companies teaching the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS), ®and I’ve seen firsthand how easily a unified team splinters into factions. It’s so common, actually, that it’s one of the first dragons we slay.

How can you refocus your team into alignment? Consider the three elements that Jack and Suzy mention.

  1. MISSION

In EOS® language, we call this Core Focus. In layman’s terms, I call this the “decide exactly what you do” filter. Core Focus is a combination of your purpose, cause or passion, and your niche. This clear, laser-sharp focus becomes the filtering mechanism for determining what opportunities you will pursue. Keep your team aligned by working fewer opportunities–those squarely within your Core Focus. “He who chases two rabbits catches none.”

I am reminded of a manufacturing company that had experienced rapid growth and they determined they needed an Enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to run the company.  Rather than buy a proven ERP system, they decided to hire some programmers and develop their own.  They reasoned that once developed, it could be sold to others within their industry and create another stream of income.  Well…you can probably guess how deviating from their Core Focus worked!

  1. BEHAVIORS

If “Core Focus” is the destination, the company’s transportation is behaviors. In EOS® terms, we call these Core Values. The Welch’s use the term behaviors because they feel the term helps understand that core values really describe how people behave at work and how their behaviors bring the company’s mission to life.  Your employee’s behaviors, naturally, drive their performance, which in turn brings life (or death) to your company’s Core Focus.

How do you establish your company’s core values?

You can Google “company culture” or “core values,” then plaster those platitudes on coffee mugs and posters, and join the ranks of mission-statement disasters.  Frankly, that approach will bring little if any impact.  OR–if you want to bring alignment via Core Values:

*Determine 3-7 vital, timeless principles that define the behavior of people right for your culture.

*Hire, fire, train, and reward employees according to these Core Values. If you won’t fire someone for violating your core values – do you think your values really matter?

*Realize that your Core Values are the shared values of your team. If your team doesn’t share the same values or behaviors, it’s time to either change your values, or the team.

There is much more we could say about determining and permeating Core Values or culture – the point here, is it is one of the key components of organizational alignment.

  1. CONSEQUENCES

“. . . Put some teeth into the system . . . promotions and bonuses (or not) based on how much the employees embrace and advance the mission and how well they demonstrate the behaviors.”

Aubrey Daniel, author of many best-sellers on human performance, taught me a simple concept: The behavior you see is the behavior that has been reinforced.  Desired behavior must be continually reinforced.  To change or reinforce behavior, we must have incentives that really work. Many commonly used incentives like annual profit sharing really do no not reinforce behavior.  Make sure you put the effort into getting this right. One book I would suggest is Ownership Thinking by Brad Hams

So…imagine a team that is engaged, motivated and committed to harnessing all of it combined and individual resources…driving and support the organization’s performance and growth.

If you would like to learn how your company stacks up regarding alignment, click here to download a free Organization Checkup. If you’d like an outsider’s look into your company’s alignment, it would be my pleasure to talk.