Leadership Simplified: Doug Van Dyke


Workgroup Alignment Leads to Rich Rewards

Volume: September 2011

By Doug Van Dyke, Leadership Simplified, www.leadershipsimplified.com


Gerald was adding people to his organization like a madman. He was fortunate that his business was growing and he was bringing on people quickly. One of his best friends, Susan, worked for an organization that was in trim mode. They had been experiencing reductions in force over the past 18 months. While Gerald and Susan’s businesses seemed to be going in opposite directions, they actually had similar issues: how to best align their organizational talent with the many needs of the business, the ebb and flow of the marketplace, and the potential that exists within the business. Let’s take a look at each one of these areas, beginning with talent.  


Talent. You may be adding talent to your workgroup, or reducing talent, or maintaining talent. Regardless of the direction, I bet the talented people that populate your organization are busy. Busy can be a good thing, as long as the right people are doing the right tasks. Over the past three years many organizations have experienced wholesale shifts in the makeup of their workforce. Yet, few have taken a moment to take stock of their talent pool and ensure that each person is properly aligned with their individual passion, as well as what they are best suited to do. It is not a lengthy process to align talented people with their passions and appropriate duties. It merely takes some strategic thought. For example, a client of mine recently took stock of their talent and shifted several people to different areas of the company. The leaders communicated the changes nicely, and each team member was amenable to the move. The results they have experienced are better morale and smoother productivity.


Need. Wants and needs are different things. Many businesses are structured according to the wants of the organization, which is not always the most effective structure. Smart organizations seek to create a marriage of the most critical needs of the marketplace with the needs of their top talent. An example of this is Google, which does a terrific job of creating a cool and fun way for us to search for information on the Internet. At the same time, they focus on creating a cool and fun culture in which their team members work. Many team members have the freedom to work from different offices in different cities as they perform their job functions. Google’s creative, flexible culture leads to attracting and retaining the right talent. Google’s talent is also right in synch with the needs of the marketplace.


Market. Does your market seem to be more fluid than you would like? Welcome to the club. With the fast pace of technological innovation, coupled with a widening global marketplace and the Internet (the great equalizer), the odds are good that your market is not solidly stable. As such, you may want to consider reinvention on a regular basis. In other words, take stock of your business or workgroup every two years and think very creatively about how you could serve your changing market in new, robust ways. Recently, I recommended this idea to a group of entrepreneurs and they responded with “Every Two Years!” Then they looked at each other and said: “Hmmmmnn, we should probably reinvent every 12 months.” Whatever your preferred time-frame, go through some type of reinvention or visioning exercise every couple of years. You will be amazed at the ideas generated and the information gathered in the process.


Potential. We live in a more abundant place than most people realize. Opportunities are all around us. Yet so many leaders and sales professionals allow themselves to get sidetracked by difficult challenges, and the doom-and-gloom rhetoric of the media. In the process, they lose sight of the fact that never before have we lived in a workplace with the world open to our goods, services, and ideas. Never before have we had the gift of such an array of communication options, all possessing the promise of lightning-speed connections. We are doing business in a truly exciting time that is brimming with the potential for growth and expansion. So what is the problem? Answer: Myopia. Tunnel vision. Too many leaders possess it; too few seek a cure. I will stop here and leave you with this: Visualize Success. Walt Disney did, and despite all of his rides breaking down on their first day of operation, things turned out pretty well for Walt and his team. Do not become defeated by one-day or short-term issues. Realize that potential is always a long-term prospect.   


Bottom Line: In this crazy, fast-paced business world it is easy to keep your head down and run as fast as you can to keep up with a litany of tasks, duties, and opportunities. Whether you are a team leader, a sales leader, an entrepreneur, or a philanthropist, it may be worth your time to look up, take a breath, and assess the alignment of your team with your marketplace. If you need a hand, call me. If you take on this beast yourself, bravo. However you proceed, you will know when you get it right because you will smile and utter one word: “Perfect.” Now, go execute my friends.


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