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March 30, 2021

Aligning the 4 Key Elements in Your Organization

Something isn’t quite right in your organization. Maybe revenue isn’t where you’d like it to be despite a significant increase in your marketing spend, or voluntary turnover is a lot higher than it used to be. You may not yet know for sure what is “off,” but you know something is up.

It might be tempting to scrutinize the activities of your sales team or human resources, but the truth is what’s off could be any number of things.

Four Key Elements

Every organization has four key elements or capabilities that impact all of its other parts: talent, leadership, organizational culture, and outcomes. Each one of these areas should work synergistically, but often they are managed and operated in silos–and when one area is “off,” the rest of them will feel “off” too.

You can visualize this as an electrical circuit. There’s a current running through the wire. When everything is connected properly, there’s an efficient transmission. The organization runs efficiently. But when something is disconnected or misaligned, the circuit is interrupted, power is reduced and resistance increases.

And resistance leads to the challenges you’ll likely encounter.

Thoughtful Alignment Wins

On the other hand, when the four key elements are thoughtfully aligned, when you’ve given thought to how you hire, onboard, manage talent, develop leadership, etc.–and how those important functions align with your company culture–your outcomes are much more effective. You’re no longer throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what works–trying to fix one element in isolation from the others.

Bringing in individual experts for each of those elements where you want to focus can help. Even better is partnering with a consultancy that offers an integrated approach. One that doesn’t look at organizational challenges myopically but rather from a holistic and systems-based perspective.

For example, with much of the diversity, equity, and inclusion work some organizations have invested in over the last 12 months, we’ve seen minimal visible progress that we would consider permanent or sustainable. In most of these cases, the organizations have either focused heavily on their talent practices or their organizational culture. They have not focused as much on leadership and outcomes

Look Away from Bottom Line

If you’re like most CEOs or leading a large team, you may be primarily focused on your monthly or quarterly results in the form of top- and bottom-line numbers. It’s easy to forget sometimes that organizations aren’t really made up of data points; they’re made of human beings.

When you look beyond this month or this quarter and focus instead on what it will take to achieve longer-term outcomes, it becomes easier to see the need for digging much deeper with your leadership team. Taking a more holistic and longer-term view usually produces superior outcomes, but that means a willingness to step away from today’s shiny solutions.

It’s time to take a step back so you can grow forward. Time to stop hiring individual subject matter experts to support talent, leadership, organizational culture, and outcomes and ask, what would it look like if we were to take a more integrative approach?

Where to Start Investing

When you experience a challenge within the organization, chances are you have underinvested in one of the four key elements. And remember, each of those four elements impacts the others. So a “people problem” isn’t necessarily a talent deficit; it could be misalignment with your organizational culture. A miss on key outcomes could actually be a leadership style mismatch, not a process or communication issue.

The most successful organizations 10 years from now will be those whose board members and CEOs are willing today to invest equally in terms of time, money, attention, and other resources on all four key elements.

Look at the new talent that’s coming into the workforce in 2021 and beyond. Gen-Zers seek out organizations that value them as whole human beings–in all of their areas of difference and diversity. And if the workers that organizations will be losing due to retirement or age-related disabilities look very different, it’s because on average, they are.

Embrace that. Your Gen Z workers are what all organizations will look like in the future. Time to make sure your talent, leadership, organizational culture, and outcomes are future-ready, too.