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Does Everyone Know Where The Sled Is Going?

Mike McKinley

Recently, while attending a manager's meeting of one of my consulting clients, I thought about how so many people in the work force do not understand the direction of their respective organizations. They show up each day at work, but only go through the paces without seeing a bigger picture. Ways in which they can make an important contribution to the organization are diffused or absent.

Mike McKinley
During this 2˝ hour meeting, the conversation centered on reviewing our agreed-upon goals, evaluating how we were going to achieve them, and identifying barriers to achievement. May I stress that this meeting was a conversation among the participants? It was not about the lead dog telling the rest of the dog team where their sled should be, how fast they should be running, or their position on the dog team. Everyone on the team was no less or no more important than the other.

What was this conversation all about? How did all members of the work team feel equally valued?

Well, we focused on central discussion points, which I'd predict are similar to the ones any organization should discuss on a periodic basis.

Helping all members of a work team see the bigger picture relies on establishing agreed-upon objectives. For the company with whom I was consulting, that called for mutual discussion on these key points:
  • Increasing the percentage of operating profit
  • Comparing performance and policies to competitors to assure we're better
  • Improving the rate of inventory turns in all departments
  • Meeting individual sales levels by designated personnel
  • Growing the customer service commitment
  • Mapping each employee's training hours and the content that is needed
  • Building the balance sheet for a more secure and solid company

Each person talked, listened, took notes, expressed concerns, asked questions, and agreed in principle to the objectives.

Now, will there be some changes during the year? Sure. Will there be some months that get off track? Sure. That's human nature and business uncertainty. But as that wavering occurs, this business will be able to rely on its key-objective template.

Now the challenge will be to constantly review the objectives, communicate them across the board to all employees, and maintain a high level of appreciation and enjoyment during the ride.

And remember the old joke: in business or in life, unless you're the lead dog—OK, I won't go there.

Michael McKinley, CSP, CPAE, is a professional speaker who builds and delivers personalized presentations on business topics for corporations and professional associations.
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