One of the biggest roadblocks to improving your organization's sales performance is when the decision makers are not in alignment.
Think of it like a road trip. If everyone in your family is on the same page about your destination (say, Denver to LA), then it's okay to have a little "back and forth." Which route should we take take? Which attractions do we want to see along the way? But if half of your family wants to go to LA and the other half to Seattle, then you really only have three options:
In the same way, if the decision makers at your company have completely different "destinations" in mind for the business (i.e. different goals, visions, or missions), then one side will have to come around to the other side's way of thinking. Otherwise, your company will stagnate or (gulp) split apart.
The bottom line? Your decision makers absolutely must be aligned if positive change is to be affected.
What it Looks Like When Decision Makers Aren't Aligned
Misalignment among decision makers can manifest with several symptoms. Here are just a few of the trouble signs to look for.
Obviously, this is not a comprehensive list. But it paints a picture of what misalignment can look like. When decision makers are not aligned, the change process can become slow and frustrating. It gets bogged down in arguments, or even evolves into a power struggle.
How to Get Your Decision Makers on the Same Page
Clearly, you have to get your decision makers on the same page before bringing other team members into the change process. Let's talk about three ways to encourage unity of purpose and action within your company.
1. Create a Consensus
If decision makers have different ideas about which direction the business should take, your first step towards alignment should be to develop consensus among the leadership team.
Here's one important exercise that can help. Have all of your company's leaders sit down and write their individual answers to the following questions.
The point of this exercise isn't to quiz your decision makers. There is more than one correct answer for each question. In fact, everyone may give different answers — and that's okay!
Your goal here is to create a common starting point. Once each decision maker understands where the others are coming from, you can generate a discussion about how to synthesize all those answers into a workable strategy that everyone can agree on.
2. Develop Clear Boundaries for Leadership
Misalignment often occurs when there is confusion about who exactly should give the "final word" on implementing changes within the organization. Take two common examples:
If there's a lack of clarity on who makes final decisions for the company, then any proposed changes can easily fall to the wayside. That's why it's so important for the change agent to clearly define who is in charge, and then hold them accountable for their authority. When clear boundaries are set, progress can be made.
3. Balance Flexibility with Decisiveness
Good leaders are flexible and responsive to suggestions — no doubt about it. However, that strength can easily become a weakness in the form of indecisiveness. For instance, a leader who's willing to share some of his power with others may hesitate to "pull the trigger" on a proposed plan of action without approval from all of his subordinates.
While flexibility is good, decisiveness is also essential. The person who makes the final decision on any initiative for change must be the same person who keeps his/her leadership team focused on the ultimate objective - and also supports the change agent's efforts to do so.
With a strong, decisive leader at the head of the improvement effort, needed changes can be made in a timely manner. Decision makers who place an emphasis on collaboration can bring a lot of value to the company — especially if they know when it's time to listen, and when it's time to act.
Define the "Where" and the "How" and "When" Will Follow
If you implement these three suggestions, you'll likely be able to get all of your decision makers on the same page. Once everyone has that same destination in mind (the where of your company), it becomes much easier to negotiate the how and when of getting there.
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