What No Consultant Will Tell You
Imagine a company with 10 senior leaders. Carol is the CEO and she’d new to her role. Her leadership team must come together and make one decision on which the future of the company hangs. They prioritize the company’s investments to drive the strategy.
Here’s the catch: Every one of them (and every other leadership team, all the time) has varying degrees of emotion. Their emotions may be impacted by the meeting they just came from, personal issues they are dealing with, or the stress of running their part of the business. All of them have something going on that the rest don’t know about. Yet they have to come to one decision.
Everyone on the team is VERY important, so imagine there are five more who couldn’t be there (even though the company’s future is at stake). Their input will need to be bolted onto the final decision. The people impacted? Well, they’re rarely in the room. This team will spend months trying to ‘get buy-in’. And without the alignment of people doing the work who were never consulted, the decision may not even make sense. And will rarely be supported.
It’s All About Alignment
The only way to coral that is by creating alignment. Not GETTING alignment. CREATING it. Alignment. Not buy-in. There is a difference.
As leaders, you cannot afford to work with ANYONE who isn’t building real alignment into every single process they bring to your company.
Until we understood alignment, I almost didn’t want to call myself a consultant. I didn’t want to create another binder, take up space in a conference room, and trawl the halls talking to your boss about you.
Many of us have been burned so many times on the receiving end that we think the industry is broken. It’s driven by firms who are all about doing things TO you or, AT you, but not WITH you. And we’ve worked with people who have been through the ringer working with consultants. Myself included.
What IS alignment?
Alignment is getting leaders, and every single person in the company, working towards the same outcome with a clear understanding of their place in the process and the freedom to make the decisions they need without a ton of needless ‘approvals’.
Without alignment, you have confusion, fear, chaos, and resistance.
When we help create alignment FIRST and initiate the process AFTER, we see the kind of results that make me jump out of bed in the morning, because it turns what might otherwise be a time of struggle and strife into an opportunity for everyone on a team to own the vision and results.
If alignment isn’t the foundation of all you do, you might as well take your budget and stick it in a binder because you know that’s where it’s going to end up. At least you will still have the money.
The Secret to Creating Alignment
I want to share a couple secrets to help you ensure that any money you invest gets you what you want.
The first may seem obvious, but when your organization faces disruption, you need to do two things:
- Get clear on the problem
- Get clear on the outcome you want
When we work with companies, we ask first, what outcomes you want…because while we have some great processes, it’s not about that. And we can’t recommend a process until we understand the outcome you want. No consulting firm can. Despite what they may promise.
4 Ways to Waste Money on A Consultant
Here are some red flags…we feel so strongly about this that we don’t work with people who make decisions based on these things. You will save thousands and thousands if you educate your team to stop asking for them.
Don’t waste your money asking for:
- Benchmarking – (I’ll have what they’re having) By the time you imitate the competition, you are already behind. This may have worked in the past, but today, you can’t beat someone at their own game – you have to create your own game. Sure it’s helpful to use the competition as a guideline, but in our experience building a pivot around benchmarking is a binder activity.
- Best Practices – Best practices are like preaching abstinence to millennials on Tinder- it’s a great idea in theory, but it doesn’t work. You are better served to create solutions that work for real people in the real world…that build the capabilities your organization needs to drive the strategy. To do this, ask your employees for help.
- Choosing Process Over Outcomes – When we choose clients, we don’t work with the ones who are so married to the process they want that they need that they lose sight of the outcomes they need. We don’t do what’s trendy. We create a process that will get you to what you need.
- “Help me Create Buy-In” – When you implement change, you aren’t selling anything. If people aren’t aligned, there’s a reason. And they won’t buy into anything until you figure that out. Spending months trying to get ‘buy-in’ is counterproductive to a solution that works.
And if anyone’s telling you that getting people aligned can’t be done…
…Or that it takes months…
…Or it will involve too many people…
… Or you can’t afford the (time, money, resources)…
…they are wrong!
If you want solutions, you can’t afford NOT to think about alignment.
Because when you do finally create alignment, all the other money you’re spending on processes and rolling out change will now give you a much greater return. This return is not just in bottom line profits but also in employee retention. And my favorite metric: making life in corporate America better.
If you would like help increasing the return on the investments and resources you already have, contact us. It’s what we do.
LeaderShift Insights® aligns people, structure, and investments to drive strategy.