NAFCU Services Blog

Sep 03, 2020

Organization Alignment Part 1: Work Toward the Ends, Not Managing the Means

By Peter Myers, Senior Vice President, DDJ Myers, Ltd.

Employee engagement, satisfaction, and internal Net Promoter Scores are now common practices; even the NCUA is focused on increasing its employee engagement. As a consulting partner with a talent–management focus, we’re all in favor of organizations improving their cultures. “Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” right? 

However, we’ve seen some organizations hyperfocus on tactical engagement steps as the ends and not the means. Hosting virtual team happy hours and passing out electronic food delivery cards are all great. But many execs view these as cultural busy-ness rather than lasting change. 

QuoteIn our many years of work with credit unions around the country, we’ve found a few lasting ideas and techniques that we share. We start by asking what we need to do to help the organization achieve its strategic objectives. And we believe that’s not just a question for the executives, but one for every member of the organization. Many teams get this wrong with staff surveys that ask for feedback without empowerment, which often leads to a long list of ideas or complaints. If you want each individual employee to have a sense of goal ownership and impact, then measure it. That’s easier said than done, but we have some ideas.  

Lots of organizations fret over “empowerment.” Typically, those conversations lead to frustrated management and passive employees. So we ask the teams to think about the ends, not the means. Before managers can grant “ownership” and employees can feel “empowered,” they need to clearly understand how aligned they are.   

So, how do you start this conversation? We think it starts with a deeper assessment of a team’s:

a.) strategic buy-in, 

b.) clarity of execution,

c.) formal and informal communications channels, and 

d.) shared empowerment. 

We believe the vast majority of team members want to be part of a winning organization. Cultural perks and activities are important, but those are less impactful until a team gets better clarity, alignment, and preparation. 

There are many experts, frameworks, and tools out there that can help an organization understand and adjust its alignment. We have our own tools and practices specifically for credit unions. For more ideas on this topic, take a look at these new resources

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