Identifying and Clarifying Lack of Focus Within Your Business
Developed from the ProThink Learning Course Leading Change to Accelerate Business Performance
Finding a balance between candor and diplomacy is difficult for thought leaders. Open fields of communication are ideal, but complete transparency with all employees invites criticism and resistance, which can be dangerous to plans still in the early stages.
In the wake of big changes, it may be tempting to keep team members in the dark about the details until the plan is in motion. However, delayed or partial communication leads to a side effect that is fatal to a change initiative: lack of focus.
According to Franklin Covey’s 2020 surveys, focus within companies should be a major concern. Research found 95% of workers don’t understand their organization’s strategy. Only 15% of employees can identify one of the top three goals of the company. 81% of employees said they are not held accountable for regular progress on organizational goals, and 87% of employees had no clear idea what they should be doing to achieve the goal.
How does your business stack up?
You don’t need to hire teams or conduct a costly survey to evaluate your employees’ level of focus. Missed communication is a primary cause of disengagement, and communication is an excellent tool to measure that disengagement and know how to tackle it.
Use the 5 x 5 x 5 model as a litmus test: Ask 5 questions to 5 employees and 5 leaders.
The 5 Questions to Ask:
· What is changing in the organization?
· Why is it changing at this time? What happens if we don’t change?
· How will we change? How will we remain the same? How and why do we need to be different?
· Who will be involved?
· When will this take place?
The answers you receive will provide you with a nice cross-section of how the average person at various degrees of influence in your organization understands the direction the business is heading.
Once you know the clarity of focus, it’s time to be proactive. Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People recommends the See-Do-Get model for introducing change.
Instead of beginning with behavior — what you want people to do differently, leaders begin with focus — how they want people to see the problem and the need for change. If leaders want to get different results through different behavior, they must first help other leaders and employees see things differently. In a change effort, this means everyone must have a clear, common focus on why things are changing, the priorities of the change, and what people need to do differently because of the change.
Lack of focus within an organization is deadly, especially when change initiatives demand a high quality of work for effective implementation. The good news is that employees don’t want to be disengaged; people crave doing work that matters to them and makes them feel fulfilled. The primary cause of disengagement is communication breakdown, whether due to organizational issues or a deliberate delay in providing answers on the direction a business is heading.
How to Communicate Change
Effective communication should contain the details people need to understand every aspect of the change, while being brief enough to be remembered. After all, people on average have lost the attention span for content longer than 500 words, and accounting for emails, many employees root through hundreds of communication attempts a day.
Person-to-person communication is the most effective way of communicating, but of course interacting one-on-one is often not an option for large companies and those operating under time constraints. Ideal communication will find a compromise that is personal while also being time effective.
The 3–30–3–30 Method
To keep important orienting information from getting lost in the shuffle, try the 3–30–3–30 method. This expresses the same message in four formats: One 3-second message (3 words), followed by a 30-second message (three sentences that describe the 3 words), followed by a 3-minute message (three paragraphs with the details on those sentences), and finally a 30-minute message containing all the details of the change plan.
This could mean a company-wide email announcing the change with a brief subject, a brief introduction, and three paragraphs covering what will be discussed in the upcoming launch meeting. This is a quick overview which can be distributed to everyone in a business almost immediately and read in under five minutes. Sending an overview before the person-to-person communication also gives employees ample time to learn about what’s coming and be prepared with questions. In turn, this creates better engagement at the meeting and allows leaders to best take advantage of the limited opportunities to meet face-to-face.
Recognizing that lack of focus is a problem in your business is only the first step. If you’re in the planning stages of a change, factor that into your change strategy. If you’ve discovered a lack of focus is an issue and you’re in the middle of a change, now is the time to begin driving engagement and to get your employees plugged back in.
Navigators only arrive at their destination when they have the directions. Get ahead of the disengagement and get employees plugged in early.