Front End Alignment
While visiting my favorite local
family-owned auto repair shop recently, the HR Doctor
considered the front-end alignment offer posted on the wall.
Making sure that wheels, tires and the auto body to which they
all connect is in proper alignment is extremely important. If
the alignment is not correct, the result will be added stress
on key parts, poor performance from the car and an increased
risk of breakdown or catastrophic accidents resulting in more
costly repairs in the future.
now I am sure you have guessed that this is not an article
about Ocellos Automotive Center, but about the fact that the
same risks are present in any modern government or business
organization. If the behavior of the "parts" of the
organization is not proper, all of the risks and potential for
organizational failure are also present.
recent HR Doctor article describes the importance of core
values ("HR to the Core"). The HR Doctors book Dont Walk
by Something Wrong! is full of information about the
strategic role that parts of an organization, including HR,
budget, payroll, law enforcement, public works and, in fact,
every organizational component, plays in achieving the
strategic vision of the leaders.
Without the strategic view, an
organization will simply be doing an imitation of Diogenes,
searching through the world looking for an honest
Even if an organization has a
mission statement, a vision statement, core values and posters
everywhere in the corridors, more is still needed. The
agencys actual day-to-day behavior has to align with these
strategic directions in order for it to morph into an
effective successful, energized organization.
Making sure this alignment is
proper regularly checked, and periodically adjusted is an
essential function for every leader. Certainly elected and
appointed officials and executives have that role. But, the
same behaviors of leadership can be expected and should be
expected of the first line supervisor in charge of a crew of
two or three workers in the field or clerks in the office.
Every employee is an ambassador of the organizations values
and its leadership direction.
organization where employees whine and complain, perhaps not
recognizing how great they have it in a world of defined
benefit pensions, health insurance and job stability, is not
an organization properly aligned with productive and positive
goals. Managers, directors, county administrators and city
managers may be appointed to their offices, and have a badge
and a larger paycheck, but they commit malpractice and they
are not truly leaders if they arent modeling properly the
behaviors consistent with public service excellence. These
include R-E-S-P-E-C-T, a compelling urgency to follow through
and deliver on commitments, open and honest communication, and
other critical variables usually outlined in an organizations
Performing a front-end alignment
on the organization begins with ensuring that the strategic
direction is clear and exciting. The elected officials and the
top managers need to come together and commit to behaviors
that are positive and consistent with the vision of the
organization. Every employee must understand that their
behaviors can make the clients or members of the public
pleasantly and consistently surprised at the quality and
caring of services provided.
This is definitely true of
internal clients for organizations such as HR, the garage or
the budget office as well. These service providers must also
insure that employee behavior is consistent with the
organizations values and vision.
Employees who ignore customers or
are rude, short tempered or appear to be in a coma at work are
undermining the success of the organization. More importantly,
supervisors and managers who exhibit these same dysfunctional
behaviors are not only sabotaging the success of the
organization, but are producing attitudes in others which will
harm the organization even after a particular "Godzilla
Manager" has left.
Its a joy to be part of an
organization or to receive service from one where values are
clear and compelling and where the employees - the
musicians in the orchestra - are using the same sheet
music and are in tune with one another and with the direction
of the conductor leader. Ironically, the best leaders are
actually servants. As the great Boston Philharmonic Orchestra
conductor and cellist, Benjamin Zander said, the power of a
conductor is really derived from how well that individual
empowers or enables the musicians to express themselves with
passion and joy.
great HR leader, a great leader in the world and locally, has
a similar view to Ben Zanders. Performing a front-end
alignment regularly is one of the most powerful management
actions we can take.