Growth is the goal but it brings new pressures.

Does your leadership team have what it takes to keep the vision alive, compelling and relevant as the organization changes shape?

In a May 2011 article in Gallup Management Journal, Tom Rieger warns of the dangers of internal barriers arising in organizations. Parochialism is the base step of the Bureaucracy Pyramid (Parochialism – Territorialism – Empire building). “With parochialism, the world is strictly contained within the walls of a particular function…business success becomes defined as simply completing the process that the function has created”.

Do your recognize these in your company?

  • functional silos creating protective policies and rules
  • defining success by focusing on only what happens in (a department’s) own little world
  • losing sight of the ultimate outcome

Where this occurs, “reality, customers, and the marketplace become peripheral – if those within the parochial function notice them at all”.

Life in a small business involves wearing many hats but expansion means dividing responsibilities or creating a more narrow focus for specific departments. And the person in charge of a particular function is judged primarily on how well that function performs.

What happens when you lose sight of the vision and strategy

Departments begin to compete for resources, budget, IT initiatives, and headcount. So how do leaders of these functions survive in the face of all of those demands and not lose control? They create rules, standards, and policies to bring order to the growing chaos. Rules are like walls that provide boundaries within which people must operate.

When people operate within these walls, they lose sight of the most important thing: the overall mission or strategy. To them, everything revolves around what’s important to the department – their ability to complete their part of the process and check off that one box, regardless of whether or not it supports the larger strategic goals.

Process over outcomes – alarm!

As the pressure and complexity of structure increases, people tend to stop seeing things through the eyes of the customer and filter through their part of the process. Process begins taking precedence over outcomes. Success starts to be defined as completing their part of the job, regardless of the impact on others.  Creating engaged customers and business success are sacrificed to the success of their part of the job.

When you hear in the language, “my department” from “our company”, you can be sure your managers’ thinking has changed some time ago.  That should ring an alarm to the senior leadership. “My department”-thinking signals the organization has become a group of departments who are more in competition than focussed on outcomes aligned with the vision.

Dropping the vision is dropping the ball

Since a leader’s main role is to cause people to move in a particular direction, when the various functions are not collaborating and cooperating – or synergizing – to cause business success, the leadership team have dropped the ball.

If you want to see your people committed to “our company” instead of protecting their patch, then contact Liz today for a complimentary 20-minute consultation to discover what is the root cause and the achievable steps to return to a focussed, productive and profitable organization.