For a company to reach its potential, it must have alignment as to what it's doing, where it's going and how it's getting there.
Where a company sees itself going – its Vision – must be clearly understood by each associate. The power resulting from a group of people with a shared vision and values has been shown repeatedly throughout history.
Margaret Mead, anthropologist, said: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has."
Our vision at The Phelps Group is to be the standard by which all marketing communications agencies are measured. This starts with the individual, flows to the teams, and then to the overall agency. These standards are reinforced with the help of clients, suppliers, friends and family. Here's how we are taking daily steps toward our vision:
Individuals determine where they want to go.
Each associate develops his or her Individual Performance Objectives (IPO). We suggest taking some quiet time to think about what's most important to you. Get your nose off the grindstone. Look longer term at the bigger picture. Set your goals for the year. State your goals for contribution to income, contribution to the environment and for your contribution to the quality of our work. Clearly outline the intended results, how you expect to do it and when you'll have it done. Include personal goals, if you wish. (Often it helps to share these personal goals with others to create pressure on you to achieve them. For example, "I'm going to stop smoking.")
Follow up with 1-to-1s.
Progress toward goal achievement is monitored on a monthly basis in our 1-to-1 meetings. We recommend that our associates meet monthly with either their discipline coach or their team leader. For most associates, we recommend a blend of both throughout the year. It's their responsibility to schedule these.
The mere reviewing of your goals on a regular basis greatly increases the likeliness of accomplishment. It's your 1-to-1 partner's job to hold the mirror up so you can see yourself and your accomplishments clearly. For example, "John I see that you were going to complete a statistics class by next February. How are you doing on that?"
Over the years at The Phelps Group, it's been gratifying to see so many associates setting specific goals. Individually, we're getting more sophisticated in doing this. For some, it's their first time to set individual annual goals in an action plan. Others have been doing it for years, and in some cases, decades.
Associates are encouraged to place their objectives where they can review them daily or, at the very least, weekly. Once individuals have their objectives, the next step toward overall alignment is to ensure that individual goals are aligned with the teams'.
Individual plans flow into team plans.
When the team meets to develop plans for its clients and for the team as a whole, it becomes evident to the individuals if their IPOs are in concert with the team's goals.
We ask teams to agree on what their mission and vision are and specific action steps required to achieve them.
We look to team leaders to make this happen on a client and team basis, answering questions on the team level about how members can best work together on commitments, special procedures and such. And we ask that they develop a plan for each client.
If there's not a written marketing communications plan for each client that contains a situation analysis, conclusions, objectives, strategies and specific executional plans (budget, creative, media, and the involved disciplines) then the team leader is not providing the leadership our clients expect
Team plans flow into the agency's plan.
The individual teams' projections, missions and action plans, along with the agency's overall operations plan combine to create the overall plan. When this is shared with the entire group, various individuals volunteer to be team leaders for the agency projects. Then, they present action plans to show when, how and who will make these plans happen.
Alignment with and support of forces outside the team are critical.
Verifying that the individual, team, client and company goals are in alignment is not enough. The company's outside suppliers and the associates' family and close friends are part of the process, too.
We assume that our suppliers have our best interest at heart. In most instances they've proven themselves over time. And we feel that if they have a clear picture as to what our plans are, they're better equipped to help us execute them. They want us and our clients to be successful, so we bring them in for a special evening once a year to have dinner and review our annual plan. Our associates' families and close friends have a strong influence on their attitudes and performance. So, as previously explained, we invite them to a “Mate Night” dinner to review our mission and general plan for the year.
Think of the system as a rocket. Each supporting group is like an engine. Get them all lined up in the same direction, reduce drag on the system by eliminating friction caused by lack of information or excess weight, stand back and watch it climb to its full potential.
That's tapping an organization's maximum power.