In a previous blog, we discussed a common mistake we see business leaders make: trying to fix the symptoms of a problem with short-term, Band-Aid solutions instead of identifying and resolving the more serious underlying issues.
For example, if a client is struggling to hire a warm body, let alone a stellar employee who’s motivated and engaged, they may blame their “people process”—how they handle things like interviewing and hiring, onboarding, or performance management.
Let hay bales (and stars) be your guide
Certainly, those HR processes should be scrutinized and fine-tuned as needed. But fixing HR systems (or singling out any aspect of the organization) in a vacuum won’t create long-term, company-wide success. Instead, leaders must take a big-picture view of the organization and align all business functions as a single, interrelated, interdependent system. It’s a lot like stacking hay bales—each bale must be carefully placed and properly positioned so the whole structure stays strong and stable.
To help our ag and feed clients differentiate between symptoms and causes, we shift from hay bales to stars, thanks to Jay R. Galbraith’s Star Model ™, a five-part framework for achieving business success.
According to Galbraith, misalignment on the star can jeopardize the success of a business. Just imagine the risk if more than one of these aspects of your business is out of whack!
We tend to hear symptoms like, “I can’t find anyone who wants to work”, “I find people but they don’t stay long”, or “My employee expects to get paid just for showing up.” Sound familiar?
When these symptoms of underlying issues show up during our business and HR assessments, we zero in on two particular aspects of the Star Model—Strategy and Structure—to develop solutions. (We delve into Processes and Rewards to help clients solve other problems, like how to create incentive programs that truly align with company goals.)
A better way to think about strategy and structure
Here are some of the problems we help our clients solve.
Strategy. Strategy is the company’s “North Star”(pun intended)—its mission, values, objectives, and goals.
What we find: In our assessments, we often find that the business strategy and goals aren’t well defined. Maybe business leaders haven’t clearly established the focus of the business. Or, maybe leaders understand the business strategy but employees don’t know how their role contributes to the company’s success. The second scenario comes up a lot since business leaders tend to have a roadmap for growth and know both the destination and the route for getting there. When employees are unsure of the way forward, they’ll reach an intersection and stop until someone points them in the right direction.
To help our clients succeed, we emphasize a critical, yet often overlooked, aspect of company strategy: how to link business goals with behavior to achieve growth and success and ensure employees feel engaged and valued. Our strategy conversations focus on setting leading, not lagging metrics, and we explore tactical things like leveraging products and services, growing the customer base, and opportunities for gaining market share.
Ask yourself: What is our business strategy? What goals do we have in place to achieve our strategy? What are our values? How does our company culture support these aspects of business strategy? What behaviors are needed to achieve our short- and long-term goals?
Structure. Structure means thoughtfully defining the roles and responsibilities of the business to meet the strategy and goals—essentially, creating a truly tactical org chart.
What we find: In our assessments, we commonly find that businesses are structured around the work and tasks, not the bigger strategy and goals. In many cases, many people are responsible for aspects of the business, but no ONE person is responsible for the broader vision of success. (Remember, when everyone is accountable, no one is accountable).
In other cases, the roles may be defined, but there’s a misalignment with decision making responsibilities. Leaders get pulled into the day-to-day operations IN the business, rather than being able to focus ON the business.
When creating an org chart, we encourage clients to create structure in lockstep with the broader strategy. This parallel process ensures roles are assigned based on people’s strengths and expertise while staying fully aligned with business goals and objectives.
Ask yourself: Which product/service offering provides the biggest upside (spoiler alert: the real answer may surprise you)? Do we have the best (and one) point person for that area of growth? Is there sufficient team support to unlock the potential opportunity?
Time and again, our business assessments show that pain points are almost always symptoms of bigger problems lurking somewhere in the organizational design. Identifying and then tackling the underlying issues requires understanding that every aspect of the company is connected and integrated. Whether you picture bales of hay or the points on a star, all those seemingly separate, individual parts must be cohesive and aligned. When they are, your business will be stable—and on track to thrive.
Ready to assess how well your company is functioning and discover what’s good—and what can be better? Book a free call with us today.