Non-aligned priorities across an organisation can kill any initiative

Non-aligned priorities across an organisation can kill any initiative

Large organisations, particularly those where parts of the workforce are housed in different locations face the risk that a change implementation, even those created from central headquarters, will not be considered as an important issue in some departments and this could mean that the message and its implications will soon become ignored or be forgotten. 

How is this possible?

Two of the issues that make the prioritisation of change implementation difficult are 

1. Hierarchy issues

The iceberg of ignorance – researched by Sidney Yoshida, demonstrates that of the situations and problems recognised at the front line of the business the senior management are only aware of 9% and the Board 4% - This means that many change programmes and many change communication seem out of step with the reality on the ground. Things that people don’t fully understand or do not consider are relevant are never going to be given the level of priority desired by those who created the initiative.

2. Silo issues

There are many benefits of splitting an organisation into departments or functions, unfortunately there are as many downsides.  These separate silos can mean that some information and knowledge is sealed off from other departments, intentionally or otherwise. You can find workers in one team not talking to people outside their own department or some reluctance to the sharing of resources with other parts of the same organisation. With Performance Management systems in place a departmental focus on achieving their specific work goals can be done to the detriment of other work units or the organisation as a whole.  All of this can create un-coordinated decisions and non-aligned priorities and can even mean a second project is being launched at the same time attempting to acess the same people and resources. Impossible in well run organisations? Nope we've seen it time after time...

Some solutions

  • To counteract these types of issues everyone must be individually approached within a set time frame, which means the change implementation or internal communication must be given top priority within the whole organisation.
  • To break down the silo and hierarchical inhibitors It is more effective to create cross functional and multi-level communication forums; both face-to-face and on-line. 
  • The communication has to involve every member of the organisation in a way that raises the debate and understanding of the context, the relevance and the priority of the implementation. A democratic communication process is the most effective at aligning thinking and ensures everyone feels they have a chance to express their own views and are being listened to.
  • It is important to remember that not everyone can be reached in the same way or at the same time, so the use of multiple channels over a sustained period have to be utilised to ensure the message gets to everyone. 
  • To maximise the impact of a communication it is important to phase the release of different communication over time. Firstly to create attention or curiosity, then later to build interest and deepen understanding, before focussing on the calibration of priorities and the align activities

How are you going to create an aligned priority across your teams?

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