Having a clear purpose beyond profit is more important than ever. A recent global study by Zeno Group found that customers were 4x more likely to buy from a company, and 4.5x more likely to recommend it if they felt it had a strong purpose.
This is even more pronounced in millennials. Similarly, millennial employees have been found to be over 5x more likely to stay at a company, if they feel connected to its purpose. It’s not surprising then, that Deloitte found Purpose-driven companies to outperform their competitors by more than 3x.
The topic of Executive Alignment is often talked about in the context of transformation programs or change efforts. However, in a business landscape where change is happening faster than ever (read, constantly), alignment also must be a constant.
In our experience, we have found that it’s critical for companies to have both; horizontal alignment - the leaders of each department or business unit need to be clear on its impact on customers, employees, and other stakeholders, and vertical alignment - employees, from executive team to front line need to understand how their role impacts customer experience and employee experience, whether they directly interact with them or not.
We believe that the foundations of creating alignment is establishing a shared cross-departmental system for goal setting, accountability and investment of time and resources across departments.
Knowing what matters most to focus on is only part of the challenge - to become truly people-focused also requires developing and implementing a successful strategy to act upon it. In our experience, some insights never inform strategy, some do but never drive change that impacts results, and others have initial impact which then fades. Effective, sustained implementation is hard. We find that the following principles continue to hold true even in the face of an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous business landscape:
Implementation of the people-focus strategy needs full commitment from the business. This requires incorporating initiatives into KPIs and incentive programs, and investing in the resources and attention required for success.
When developing the people strategy, engage the key stakeholders who will be involved in implementation. Including them in the strategic planning process will not only make the strategy itself more considered and relevant, it will also build buy-in from those who are being asked to deliver on it.
A clear metric and target for success should be articulated and connected to the insight or focus area that the initiative is targeting. In order to maintain momentum and motivation, this overall target should be broken down into smaller chunks, each with their own metrics and targets that are aligned to the overall goal. For a multi-year initiative, this can mean breaking the goal into annual, quarterly, and monthly measures. For a shorter initiative, it could mean chunking to a monthly, weekly, and even daily level.
Communication between the various people and teams involved in the initiative, and communication between the project teams and the rest of the business are both critical. In both cases, we find that any effective communication requires both the necessary channels, and the necessary psychological safety for all parties to share ideas, concerns, and new information.