It’s been approximately sixteen months since COVID-19 completely changed the world as we know it.
At first, it seemed like this would be a temporary disturbance and things would go back to normal soon enough. As months started to go by, many realized that the old normal will most likely never exist again. This disturbance has given us the opportunity to reassess and rebuild in a way that will make us more resilient to future disruptions.
Many organizations had a winning formula that worked during the old normal and now may be realizing they don’t know what to do in this brave new world.
Building a business and organization that can survive any storm requires leaders to reconnect teams to mission and vision of the company. Teams that are connected to the bigger picture are able to spend their time and energy on tactics that will move the company forward, creating momentum.
Let’s take a deeper look at the 5 ingredients needed to achieve organizational momentum.
Focus begins with the vision and the top 3 – 5 organizational priorities.
Leaders who are clear about where the organization is headed, as well as the top three priorities required to progress forward, are leaders who achieve momentum. In determining the top strategic priorities; the team needs to understand the specific Big Rocks that bring the organization closest to fulfilling its mission and achieving its vision.
Given the continual chaos and bifurcation of attention caused by COVID-19 and its multiple moving parts, realigning and connecting priorities back to the mission may be a monthly or weekly exercise.
Targeting and sharing the top 3 – 5 organizational priorities is a critical role of the Primary Executive during times of crisis. Effectively defining measures of success goes hand in hand with identifying top priorities.
In addition to laying out measures of success, the team needs to know and be clear about who is responsible for what, and when.
Laying the foundation of who owns the accountability and publishing that information gives the entire team transparency on what other areas are working on and how everyone’s work impacts the whole. It also minimizes confusion and frustration, the anthesis of momentum.
A great method of fostering purpose, connection, and ownership for outcomes is to help people connect the dots between their accountability and the big picture.
When employees understand the ultimate impact of their work, they are more prone to operate at their highest level of effectiveness.
Once ownership for success is defined and accepted, this structure and shared accountability will keep things moving forward. To foster true ownership, prevent frustration and stagnation, organizational leaders and managers must share accountability and ownership beyond themselves and with the greater team.
It’s important for team members to understand they all play an important role and are in this together.
Much like the operating states, the 7 Levels of Organizational Effectiveness are a measurement of energy levels within the organization.
The lowest level of organizational effectiveness is hopelessness. Hopelessness is where nothing will get accomplished because people have lost hope and feel their efforts won’t make a difference.
The next level is fear. When people are trapped in fear, they really are riddled with anxiety and cannot move forward.
After fear is frustration, and that’s where people are mad as hell. Something’s got to change, and so they decide to make a shift.
Then comes courage, where there is an innate belief that the future will be better and that the organization will not only survive, it will thrive. When employees, managers, or organizational leaders step over that energy level line into courage, they start to make declarations and take action.
In the next level, engagement, there is a high level of tolerance for others as well as an understanding of other people’s motivations. There’s an innate awareness of the people on the team and conscious use of self, diversity, and inclusion. People don’t think about excluding people in engagement because there is a strong sense that everyone has something important to say.
From engagement, the team moves into innovation, where egos and agendas disappear in service of solving big problems for the greater whole.
From innovation, the organization can move into synchronicity. Synchronicity is where everybody has the sense that they are part of the greater whole, and they’re accomplishing something wonderful together.
If you are curious about where you or your team is at on this scale, start to pay attention to behaviors in meetings. How people behave in meetings, especially, can give you warning indicators for the health of your human system.
When people are not in engagement, they are often late for calls, do not contribute in meetings, choose to have their camera off, or are not keeping up with the cadence of the meeting. Other behaviors to watch for and consider a red flag are when people are looking away from their computer, on their mobile phone, or doing something else besides paying attention.
When there are degraders of engagement at play, it’s up to the leaders of the team to change the dynamic.
Once you’re in engagement and people are sharing, they are also collaborating.
People feel safe to give ideas, and they know there will be no retribution for pointing out what does not work. This is when innovation has the possibility of blossoming.
With the energy of innovation; employees look for ways to be more efficient and do what hasn’t been done before. At the level of innovation, points of frustration for customers or internal operations are viewed as opportunities.
When the leader views problems as possibilities for employees to stretch and grow they are more likely to step aside and give people the freedom to get curious, ideate, and innovate.
Innovation inspires more innovation, celebrating failures and successes no matter how big or small gives the team energy and stimulates more enthusiasm to keep progressing.
When organizational leaders and managers gain mastery in creating the space for innovation to occur, the team becomes a self-perpetuating machine of problem-solving and momentum.
5. Remote Team Hiring
Having the right people in the right position os key for organizational momentum and success.
Hiring for remote teams is unique, given some people do not work well remotely while others thrive. Begin by understanding what is needed from the role and why it exists. Clarify measures of success for the role, so there is certainty about how success is measured.
As the hiring team defines the role criteria, look at the behaviors that people working remotely need to have to be successful. The quest to build a remote workforce is different than hiring for inside an office.
Benchmarking employees who excel while working remotely uncovers three required core competencies. Remote workers need to be self-starters, take initiative, and be personally accountable.
It is important to raise the standard when hiring remote, as there is considerably more effort required to manage, coach, and guide people who are working in a distributed work model. When the organization raises standards for hiring and holds recruiters and candidates to those standards two things happen.
One is whoever comes into the role has already earned the respect of the team because they earned their way through the hiring process.
Two is the person coming into the role has a sense of accomplishment and pride in making it through the hiring process. The onboarding process can then begin in a winning state of mind.
Putting It All Together
Organizational momentum happens when teams are clear and connected to the mission of the organization. When they know what’s expected of them and how it contributes to the success of the company, they can easily see how their time and effort directly contribute to the greater whole. When your organization achieves a sustainable cadence of momentum, you can accomplish more with less effort even during times of uncertainty.
Are you interested in learning more about organizational momentum and organizational cultures that succeed? Sign up for the Momentum One-Hour Webinar On-Demand.