I recently renovated my website and in the process, I reviewed the number of hits received by each of my nearly 40 blogs. The one with the most hits, 15% more than the next best, was one I wrote back in 2012, entitled A Unified Sense of Direction. My mind went back decades to my days as a student at the University of Cape Town in South Africa where I was studying a Business Science Degree. In my honors year tutorials, the course required me to analyze one real company per week from disciplines such as Marketing, Finance, Human Resources, Production, etc. To me, they all seemed to have the same problems:
No unified sense of direction and an inability to translate the strategic plan into the everyday activities of the people doing the work, disengaged unmotivated workers, an ineffective and unaligned measurement system, lack of role clarity and focus, a mismatch between the competencies demanded by the organization and the competencies supplied by employees, etc.
The secret to greater productivity is getting the basics right, especially in terms of people management. The teams and organizations that perform best have a relentless focus on the permanent fundamentals; like establishing a unified sense of direction. That is why I have spent the years since university, identifying, perfecting and successfully implementing the 10 essential components and systems of team performance. The original blog I wrote back in 2012 is as follows:
Does your team and your organization have a unified sense of direction?
This means that all departments, teams, and individuals that make up your organization are pulling in the same direction and there are no “silos”. Or to put it another way, everyone is singing from the same song sheet and is working harmoniously together to achieve common goals. To achieve a unified sense of direction there needs to be agreement, at all levels, on what the organization values, what it does, where it is headed and how it plans to get there.
Organizations are systems that transform inputs into value-added outputs, products or services. Systems are goal-oriented, and order will lead to more order just as disorder will lead to chaos. Therefore, one (short) answer to the question of whether your organization has a unified sense of direction is always affirmative because no organizational system will survive long without a minimum degree of unity of direction.
While it is true that organizations are always working with a unified sense of direction to some extent, this is not enough. What really matters is the degree to which this component is being successfully and permanently entrenched in the work environment or culture. This is directly correlated with the highest levels of employee performance and job satisfaction. There are, however, many people who believe that they have been there, done that or are currently doing all of this stuff. There are still organizations that are not implementing essential components of team performance at the standard required, particularly at the workforce and team leader/supervisor levels.
We are dealing with human beings, and therefore, the potential to improve performance is limitless, and the competition intense. The focus should be on the ongoing optimization of employee capability through the better implementation of components like a unified sense of direction.
Sacher Associates have been measuring all the essential components of team performance, including a unified sense of direction, in organizations of all sizes for over 25 years. It is rare to come across an organization that has implemented these essential components at our targeted standards across all levels of employees. And we have yet to come across any organization, anywhere in the world, that is the belief that they cannot improve their sense of direction.
The secret to greater productivity is getting the basics right. For us, this means achieving the highest standards of excellence possible on all the components across all the teams in your organization. If you are not currently at that level, there is a definite opportunity to improve performance through the better implementation of these components.
If you are still not sure whether your team and your organization have a unified sense of direction at a competitive level then read these two quotes from Sacher Associates clients and then decide for yourself.
Absolutely no issues here - always feel comfortable to have any discussion - often robust – truly a no blame culture ….Very supportive and inclusive team.
- comment from a Sacher Associates survey done at our client, the Condamine Alliance
We all work smarter. We discuss things more. More operators want to be developed and show commitment and enthusiasm. The shift supervisors are now less “hands-on” but more committed to the development of their teams. We have been able to introduce some unpopular ideas because the cost savings were agreed to by all operators. The Supervisors (and most operators) are more professional – they realise the training of their operators and themselves is essential but must be carefully planned and conducted – they’re committed to discuss and consult and give up power – they know what they get in return. There is no going back – a new level of consciousness has developed.
- Dennis Sparrow, - comment from a Sacher Associates survey done at a client,
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