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Reinforce Clarity

Organizational health starts with building a cohesive leadership team that creates clarity

by answering the 6 critical questions. Our team over-communicates clarity by reminding

leaders and staff about our mission, core values, what we do, how we will succeed, our

priorities, and who must do what.

The fourth piece is to reinforce clarity described by Patrick Lencioni in The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business.

When it’s time to invite new leaders and staff to join the organization, the answers to the six questions should be embedded in an organization's fabric. Every human system that involves people should be designed to answer the six questions. Each system should be as simple as possible, but not too simple for …

  • Hiring

  • Orientation

  • Performance Management

  • Compensation & Rewards

  • Recognition

  • Firing

Leaders often believe they have the nature skill to choose good people. Their evaluation process tends not to be a process at all. After closely scrutinizing resumes and selecting candidates to interview, the interview process is often unstructured. There is lack of preparation or strategy to identify critical signs the candidate will be successful in the position.

One of the reasons this exists, according to Patrick Lencioni, is there is a time lag between when a bad hiring decision is made and when you realize there is a problem. Leaders fail to connect the cause and effect.

The best hiring approach is to use just enough structure to ensure consistency and alignment with core values. Lencioni recommends using one sheet of paper for the interviewer. The front explains the hiring process along with description of core values and behaviors that are a good fit for your organization. The back of the sheet is used to take notes about the candidate during the interview.

The purpose of an interview is to best simulate a situation that provides an accurate view of how the candidate behaves. Lencioni recommends doing something more natural such as getting them out of the office and doing something unconventional. Going for a walk with the candidate is better than sitting behind a desk. You want to get a sense of whether the person will thrive in an organization's culture and whether other people are going to enjoy working with the them. After interviewing candidates, the evaluators come together to offer their collective conclusions.

Orientation is when new staff member has an opportunity to hear leaders talk about why your organization exists and provide answers to the other five critical questions. It is an opportunity that disappears shortly after the new staff member starts, and should not be wasted.

Reinforce clarity with performance management that ensure managers provide staff clarity in what is expected of them with regular feedback. Let them know about whether they are meeting expectations. Healthy performance management eliminates confusion. The best way to help staff succeed is to;

  • Clearly communicate goals, values, roles, responsibilities, & what is important now

  • Provide regular feedback on how they are doing

  • Offer access to coaching the new hire needs to succeed

Recognition is as important or more than compensation and rewards. Many leaders fail to understand that financial rewards are a satisfier, not a driver. They want to receive money to feel good about their job, but additional money does not increase job satisfaction proportionally. What they appreciate more are drivers of gratitude, recognition, and increased responsibility.

Interestingly mission, recognition, and responsibility are especially important in engaging volunteers in a nonprofit.

“Successful nonprofits offer volunteers meaningful achievement. The steady transformation of the volunteer from well-meaning amateur to trained, professional, unpaid staff member is the most significant development in the nonprofit sector. What do these unpaid staff people themselves demand? What makes them stay? –and of course, they can leave anytime. Their first and most important demand is that the nonprofit have a clear mission, one that drives everything the organization does. The second thing this new breed requires, indeed demands, is training, training, and more training. And, in turn, the most effective way to motivate and hold veterans is to recognize their expertise and use them to train newcomers. Then these knowledge workers demand responsibility—above all, for thinking through and setting their own performance goals. . . Supporting all this activity is accountability. Many of today’s knowledge-worker volunteers insist on having their performance reviewed against preset objectives at least once a year. And, increasingly, they expect their organization to remove non-performers by moving them to other assignments that better fit their capacities or by counseling them to leave. . . These volunteer performers are still a minority, but a significant one.” Drucker, Peter F. “What Successful and Performing Nonprofits are Teaching Business” Management, Revised Edition by Joseph A. Maciariello, Collins Business, 2008 pp 147-149

Firing someone that does not fit your organization can be one of the most difficult things you do. But if the leader or staff member’s behavior doesn’t fit your organization's culture, it’s time to let them go.

Firing must be driven more than anything else, by the organization’s values. Keeping a relatively strong performer who is not a cultural fit sends a loud message to staff that the organization isn’t all that serious about what it says it believes. Let the person go to find an organization that is a better fit and allows the person a better chance to thrive.

Reinforcing clarity is a way to embed your organization's six critical answers in processes that involve people at all levels.

How much time and energy would be worth investing in reinforcing clarity to improve your organization's health?

Wes Legg


Take the free My Business Report today to assess the health of your organization. In 10 minutes, you'll receive a report designed to assess the health of your nonprofit or small business.

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