Creating alignment behind the vision – communicate and allocate
Jamie Morley explains how to create alignment from everybody in the team behind one single vision.
One of the key roles of leadership at a very high level is to get stuff done. It is to ensure that your practice is effectively doing the tasks that need doing in order to reach the vision and goals that you are striving to achieve.
It is of course critical that these activities are in pursuit of the vision and goals of the practice. Whilst also living the stated values.
Doing an analysis of the business to decide on your key strategies will give you clear focus and direction as to how to get there.
When you have these key strategies, it is vitally important that you communicate them consistently to the team and that you allocate resource appropriately.
There are different ways in which we can communicate our key strategies and vision.
There is a more formal setting such as official one-to-ones with individual team members and in group meetings. Clearly communicate these and relate them to what you are actually doing so that people see the actions that are fitting in behind the strategies and vision.
It is not just talk, it is real and these strategies are and will be followed.
You will need to do this both with the overall team and in individual 1:1 conversations.
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It is easy to think that doing it with the group is much more effective. But when communicating it to a group you cannot engage and discuss things as during a 1:1 due to the group dynamics at play. You cannot get into a detailed discussion about what that individual really feels about the path you are following. You have to do both.
Doing it with a group brings a buzz and sense of excitement to the group with people feeling they are a part of something bigger.
The 1:1 really brings it down to the individual and what it means to them.
There is also the more informal and fleeting opportunities to reiterate these strategies, the vision and values in passing. These are valuable and act as useful reminders.
Do not underestimate how much you have to communicate. It is almost impossible to over-communicate.
It takes real time and effort for people to understand and commit to the strategies and where you are going. The ultimate benefit of this is that people will know where you are heading and where to put their time and effort.
Allocation of resources
To go alongside the communication you also need to align your resources behind these strategies.
The resource you have is money, some of which you spend on people. In fact a good chunk of your resource is spent on people. In terms of people this means their time. You have to ensure their time is spent on these strategies.
I think of it as a triangle. At the top you have the overall vision of the business. This then breaks down into broad areas and then these areas break down further.
It is sometimes known as chunking down and even chunking back up depending on what you are describing.
For each of these areas it must be clear what success looks like. You need clear measures of success marked out over different time periods.
What must also remain clear is who is responsible for that.
In general I am of the view that dual ownership means no ownership. I have seen numerous occasions where dual ownership doesn’t work. Both will look at each other.
This might seem a bit old school, but I still think it is important that a single person has responsibility for that area.
This is one area where I do think things should flow top to bottom. Think first what you want to get done and then give responsibility and roles to individuals based on this. Try to avoid doing it the other way, meaning I have these people, what am I going to get them to do.
Define the roles first based on where you want the organisation to go.
In any organisation, but particularly in dental practices, there are very historical roles for staff members.
These may well still be relevant but I think you can step back from these. Consider and challenge all the responsibilities that need fulfilling within a practice.
- What are the key strategies that I want to execute on?
- Who is most likely to deliver and execute on this strategy?
- Who has the right skills and attitudes?
- And who has the capacity?
- What responsibilities do I need to move to somebody else?
- What is being done that no longer needs doing and is not a priority based on the key strategies for the business?
- Finally, what do we need to stop doing?
Building the job description
From this there are responsibilities for each position on your team. They are standard to their job and what you expect them to perform.
Although these are often assumed and may seem obvious, it is really important that there is absolute clarity for the team member.
Write them down clearly and agree them with the individual. This is the reason for the job description as we commonly know it.
Often you will see a job description and it will have a big long list of tasks. This again comes back to how much you want to chunk up or chunk down.
If you give very specific tasks then this may help to give the person an idea of what you require from them for a task. But it must also go alongside the overall areas of responsibility.
Why is this important?
If you only give the individual specific tasks then it is likely you will have to chase to do them and that is all they will do.
Once that team member has completed that task, they won’t do anything else and they will look for someone to tell them what to do. They won’t know what their overall responsibility is.
Therefore they won’t think about what other activities they could do to get to fulfil that overall area of responsibility.
In addition, when something comes along that is a little outside of the job description, they won’t respond appropriately.
With everything changing so fast these days this becomes even more relevant. It is not very inspiring for the individual, it doesn’t make use of their potential, it doesn’t engage them in their work and it is hard work for their manager.
On the other hand, if their overall responsibility is clear then staff members will undertake tasks that fit into this role. They won’t just complete the tasks assigned to them.
Instead, team members will be proactive in doing everything possible to be successful in their role and not just do specific tasks.
By doing this you are allocating that precious resource of people’s time behind the key strategies.
You must allocate any money that you spend to these strategies and not to other things. You really only have so much money and people, so ensure they all focus behind the key strategies that will take you where you want to go.
So, once you have your vision, values and strategy, you must communicate and allocate.
This is not a one-off thing. It is ongoing.
Consistently communicate and allocate so that the team see it is real and your customers start to see the output and understand what you are offering.
Read more from Jamie Morley
- What’s important and where are you heading?
- Do you have the right mindset?
- How well do you know yourself?
- Understanding leadership within a dental context.
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