Performance Alignment

Getting things done requires the support and commitment of a lot of people inside and outside the company. It is not enough to tell them what you want to do; you must involve them. The ancient Chinese proverb “Tell them and they will forget. Show them and they will remember. Involve them and they will understand.” This still applies today, especially when it comes to involving the different people and departments within your company. The destination, inclusive of the overall sales and profit goal tied to customer-centric objectives and the customer value platform, is the magnetic north of your performance alignment compass.

Success Dashboard

Figure 1. Success Dashboard


Performance alignment

Destination planning with a resulting success dashboard as shown in Figure 1 allows you to focus your efforts on what you must do to exponentially grow your business: create, communicate, and deliver better customer value. Your job in performance alignment isn’t to cut costs, though cuts may be required, or to layer on structures and add new people with new capabilities. Your job as a leader is to guide the evolution from what your business is, into what it must be to reach your destination and provide better customer value. In most cases, you’ll find that existing employees will be able to learn new skills faster than new employees. They simply need to understand the necessity of the change and the importance of their individual contributions to creating, communicating, and delivering on improved customer value.

Exponential value creation graph


Change alignment

By definition, a leader must take the organization someplace and that process, or journey, requires change to some degree. How a leader manages change with different constituencies (internally and externally) will make all the difference to whether the destination is reached.

Doing the same things every day will not deliver new results. To change the result, you must change the things you are doing. People resist more aggressively to chance when they do not understand the WHAT, WHY, WHEN, WHERE, and, HOW. In times of change, communication within the organization needs to increase exponentially. You don’t have to spell it all out before the final decisions are made, but the more you communicate about how and why the organization will change the better.

Thinking alignment

As you take inventory of the people you have and begin to align them with the capabilities now required, make sure you consider their individual ability to adapt and to grow. People have an amazing capacity to adapt and can accept change if properly motivated and encouraged. We become oriented to a way of thinking that becomes self-fulfilling on how we look at our own capabilities as well as those of others.

So-called creative thinkers who use their creativity to excuse their lack of organization are just lazy. We’re all lazy in some regard, but creativity has nothing to do with it. The super-organized who have an almost frenetic drive to stay busy will say that they are not creative, but maybe they are just afraid to try something new. We are all creative in some way. Effective managers know how to encourage the organizationally challenged to adopt some disciplines to make them more effective. These exponential leaders can also help the creatively challenged learn how to feel more comfortable with offering their ideas.

Structural alignment

Most organizations follow the traditional military structure of command and control. However, if you want to break out of the existing way of doing things that a transformational goal and more innovative strategies will likely require, I suggest an organizational structure that is flatter and more interactive. Flatter organizations rely more on the manager’s ability to lead and influence. The lead-and-influence manager has a high degree of trust in people; doesn’t spend much time checking up on everyone just to make sure they aren’t making mistakes. These managers have confidence in themselves, as well as in their co-workers.

Many otherwise successful organizations succumb to some individuals’ need to create an empire. Miniature kingdoms usually lead to turf battles and often succeed in creating impenetrable borders within the organization, rather than encouraging the cooperation necessary to create sustainable customer value. The traditional fight between sales and marketing is over. It has been for a long time. Yet some people are slower to recognize the inescapable fact that marketing is sales. Plus, sales is a lot more than entertaining customers. Salespeople are frontline marketers. Therefore, brand managers must be effective as rear-echelon staffers who provide the frontline sales guys with the tools and weapons they need to win in the trenches.

Motivational alignment

I have a simple HR philosophy that is closely aligned with my marketing philosophy. I believe that people will consistently take positive action if it is meaningful for them to do so. Meaningfulness is usually driven by a motivating combination of functional and emotional factors. If you want someone to perform a job well – and be dedicated to that job in the long term – you must consider their emotional and functional needs. The world has evolved since Maslow introduced his Theory of Human Motivation in 1943. Sociologists have updated his hierarchy of needs so that the top-level is now about sense of purpose. Why Bill Gates left Microsoft to run a social responsibility foundation is the most prominent example of this shift in the highest level of motivation.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs in 2021

Figure 3. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in 2021


An effective strategy involves a win-win overlap of being meaningful to the customer and being meaningful to the company. The same overlap must exist between the employee and the company. If an employee believes that performing a job well – such as developing new ideas to deliver better customer value – is in line with what they want to achieve within their own personal and professional goals, they will move mountains for you and your business. Employees today want to feel like their work is meaningful. They want to feel that there is a sense of purpose to what they do. They want what they do and what their company does to matter. And just like the process of getting to know your customers better, you need also to understand your employees better. Take the time to understand their motivations.

Maslow at work pyramid

Figure 4. Maslow at Work


Customer-employee motivational alignment

It all comes together when you combine and integrate what you do for customers with what you do for employees. Imagine you are a tech company, and you want to hire someone who currently works at Apple. How much more would you have to pay them? Would the amount really even matter very much? At Apple, they may feel like they are making a “ding in the universe”, as Steve Jobs famously described his motivation that spread through the company. Apple targets and positions themselves to customers as carefully as they do their employees.

Performance alignment: Apple customer and employee positioning

Figure 5. Apple Aligns Customer and Employee Positioning


Just like knowing where you want to end up as your business destination, knowing the best place to be when you go about recruiting and developing talent is key. You don’t want employees who are just loyal and work hard; you want to grow and encourage as many champions as possible who become advocates for customers and employees alike.

Just as we market our brands, to get the best marketing talent we need to align work environment preferences with the needs of potential employees. Figure 6 shows the Turkish lifestyle segmentation from our Human Segmentation model that reveals what different segments expect from an organization they work for.

Customer-employee motivational alignment

Figure 6. Employee attitudes about their work environment


Employee Advocacy

We need to be thinking beyond the first step of recruiting top talent to what we need to do to retain them. Procter & Gamble learned the hard way about recruiting the best and brightest marketing talent from universities around the world, only to lose them to other companies that used P&G as a talent developer from which they could steal well-trained people. A lot has changed since I started my career at P&G. Now, they emphasize retaining employees and turning them into advocates. IKEA has long been successful at keeping their managers for their entire career in retail.

Performance alignment: Customer-employee motivational alignment

Figure 7. Turning employees into brand advocates


Momentum alignment

The essence of getting anything done and keeping it going is momentum. In fact, momentum begins when you make the decision to grow your strategic brainpower, pushing strategic thinking out through the organization by assigning objectives rather than tasks. Also, it spreads and gains momentum when you encourage everyone else to do the same, so that the power of figuring out the best way to get the job done is supported at every level and within every function. Additionally, momentum begins when you start to recruit and develop talent in line with what they want to do with their lives and what you want to do for your customers. But, of course, the most difficult thing about momentum is taking that very first step and getting the ball rolling. So get started. There is a lot of work to do. There is a lot of growth to capture.

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