Creating Value in Organizations
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In the dynamic world of organizations, individuals play unique roles. Therefore, it is normal for each to perceive differently their environment. These distinct perceptions give rise to various needs. Often, the needs shape how these individuals contribute or choose to contribute to the collective effort. How one contributes can significantly impact their professional journey within the company. Recognizing these different ways of adding value is key to career advancement.
There are three primary ways employees add value:
Doing: This involves executing tasks and achieving tangible results.
Integrating: It encompasses initiatives that enhance information flow both vertically and horizontally, fostering efficiency and effectiveness. It also aligns actions across departments and with external stakeholders.
Communicating: Demonstrating the spirit of words through actions. This level of impact scales through authenticity and consistency, serving as a model for others.
These modes of creating or adding value can coexist within the same person. Still, when entering the labour field often people do not see the importance of integration and communication, and they believe doing so is the only way possible to create value. It takes some time spent doing tasks, to realise that certain tasks could have been done better or faster if things had been set or communicated differently, or even if you would have had a different understanding of what doing those tasks means.
However, mastering the skills of integration and authentic communication can open doors to leadership opportunities within the company. Let's delve into each of these levels.
Exploring the Three Levels
The first of these is the realm of execution, inhabited by the DOERS. At this stage, a Doing Mindset reigns supreme; it's all about action, completion, and measurable achievement. Performance is gauged by the tangible results one produces, the deadlines met, and the efficiency displayed in handling tasks as an individual resource. Therefore, each execution employee becomes a powerhouse of action, driving the immediate objectives of the organization forward with vigour and precision.
At the level of DOING, employees are often recognized for their ability to create moments of integration. Even if they don't possess the full integrative vision, they can generate initiatives that streamline communication and optimize processes in the company. This attracts attention and appreciation from their direct supervisor or manager, for their integrative perspective, often leading to receiving more managerial support, being invited to productivity improvement discussions at the middle management level, or being groomed in the management succession plan as belonging to key personnel from where to select future company leaders.
As we ascend the organizational ladder, we transition into the sphere of integration. Unlike the solitary focus of execution, integration demands a holistic view. This is the realm where tech experts, coordinators, team leads or managers knit disparate efforts into a coherent whole, ensuring seamless communication and alignment of actions.
Performance at this level is less about personal task completion and more about fostering a cohesive environment that propels the collective achievement of the team. The integrating mindset morphs from solitary doing to collaborative unifying, from singular achievement to collective advancement.
Effective communication skills become crucial at this level, not only within the team but also with peer managers and top-level management or even with external stakeholders. There is a high chance that people contributing from this perspective are either coordinators, first-line or middle managers but also technical experts well respected within their teams or departments for their complete understanding of the departmental activity.
These people manage to act as representatives of their department's interests and to effectively convey their perspective, even if it diverges from other departments' interests. They know there is always another perspective they need to acknowledge and account for, and are open to listening and understanding what is it they do not know yet for only after to offer their recommendations. They know there are no one-sided solutions in complex organizations, but only trade-offs and are ready to collaborate and build the optimum trade-off aligned both with their departmental needs and the organizational objectives.
Moreover, it’s less about ‘I’ and more about ‘We’. The mindset subtly shifts from solitary execution to collaborative unification, painting a picture larger than the sum of its parts. Therefore, success and performance at this level mean the ability to drive mutually agreed solutions between several stakeholders in a manner that preserves an environment where collaboration, transparency, accountability and learning are prioritized, without having passed stress or pressure to anyone involved in problem-solving or the future implementation of the solution, with the awareness of the type of impact the identified solution will create for both the decision makers and the people implementing it.
The domain of communication is deeply intertwined with the company's objectives. Here, the emphasis shifts from DOING to BEING. Individuals at this echelon mould the organizational culture; they are the embodiment of aligned thoughts, actions, and words along with organisational values and objectives. Their actions, still a blend of doing, bear a higher responsibility as they echo throughout the organization, shaping motivation, overcoming resistance, and nurturing a culture of integrity and authenticity.
The mindset here isn’t about unifying efforts but about living and breathing the essence of the organization, setting a living blueprint for others to emulate. It's less about the saying and more about the being. It's a shift from unifying efforts to embodying and communicating the ethos of the organization. Though rooted in action, communication transcends the tangible, crafting a legacy that endures beyond the immediate. The ripple effect of this level of value addition is far-reaching, inspiring authenticity and alignment in every echelon of the organization. Hence, at the senior executive level, it's crucial to choose individuals who can create value on all three levels.
What happens when the wrong people are chosen for the role?
You are likely already aware of this, but I'd like to extend an invitation to examine the connections to the three levels of value creation. When we select an incorrect fit for a particular role, it often stems from a failure to assess whether the candidate fulfils all the criteria necessary for creating value in the capacity they are being considered. What happens is that we choose people who displayed significant or outstanding performance, success or knowledge for the role they had, but we fail to assess whether these people have the capability to create the right value as meant by the role they are hired for. Let's have a look at the following 4 examples.
First-line Manager with Insufficient Communication Skills
A first-line manager acts as the bridge between executives and ground-level employees. When a stellar performer lacking communication skills is promoted to this role, there’s a potential fallout in team cohesion. The manager may struggle to clearly articulate expectations, feedback, or instructions, leading to confusion, misalignment, or even conflict within the team. Over time, this communication gap can lead to a decrease in morale and productivity as employees may feel unsupported or misunderstood. The lack of open communication channels may also impede problem-solving or innovation as team members might hesitate to share their ideas or concerns. The collective growth and efficiency of the team could be severely hampered, which in turn, can affect the overall performance and success of the department.
Middle Manager Resistant to Collaboration
When a middle manager excels within their department but resists cross-departmental collaboration, silos can quickly form within the organization. The absence of a collaborative spirit hinders the flow of information and resources between departments, potentially leading to duplicated efforts and wasted resources. It can also foster a culture of competition rather than cooperation, possibly leading to internal conflicts and a toxic work environment. The lack of collaboration could also delay or derail important projects that require inter-departmental cooperation, affecting the organization's ability to meet its objectives. In the long run, this resistance to collaboration could tarnish the organization’s culture and hinder its competitive advantage in the market.
CEO from a Sales-centric Background in an Operational Company
A CEO from a sales-driven background may focus excessively on revenue generation while sidelining operational efficiencies. This misalignment could lead to unbalanced strategies that don’t cater to the core competencies and operational requirements of the company. Employees may become frustrated or demotivated as they might feel their operational expertise and concerns are being overlooked. The mismatch in leadership focus can also translate to inadequate resource allocation to critical operational areas, potentially compromising quality and customer satisfaction. Over time, this misalignment could erode the company’s operational excellence and affect its reputation and sustainability in the market.
Entrepreneur Struggling to Transition to a Managerial Role
Rapid company growth under an agile entrepreneur can hit a roadblock if the entrepreneur struggles to transition into a managerial role, especially in a larger setup. The entrepreneur’s lack of skills to integrate and unify may lead to poor communication and integration among employees, creating a disjointed work environment. Decision-making might become too centralized, stifling the flow of ideas which was still possible in a smaller, more agile setup. The lack of clear leadership and managerial structure could lead to confusion regarding roles, responsibilities, and expectations among employees. Many leaders will start copying the behaviours of the entrepreneur, even if these are misaligned with the objectives of the entrepreneur, just because the being of the entrepreneur is credited or retained to be the most successful, and therefore a standard for success. In the long term, this managerial shortfall of the entrepreneur itself could hinder the organization’s ability to scale, innovate, and adapt to market changes, potentially impacting its growth and sustainability.
The beauty of this triad of value addition is the fluidity of transition from one stage to the next. It also matches with the personal development journey of the key people in the organization, and thus it enriches not only the individual but the entire organizational fabric. Each level is not a silo but a stepping stone, leading to a higher plane of contribution and value addition.
As a manager or as a person aspiring to a management position, these levels of value creation will be your daily home. As a doer, your transition to management starts when you take seriously creating different values through integration and communication and let go of your need to be seen as the one achieving tasks.
If you already are in management, this is the right moment for you to review your preference for value creation in the organization. The higher the management position you aim for, the more you need TO BE comfortable to create value through all these three channels and BE visible when doing it.
To help your self-assessment, I invite you to answer the following questions:
1. Do I predominantly focus on task execution, or do I also strive for integration and effective communication?
2. How well do I foster seamless communication and alignment within my team or department?
3. Can I represent my department's interests while still aligning with the broader organizational objectives?
4. Do my actions align with the values, vision, and mission of the organization?
5. How can I enhance my value contribution on all three levels: doing, integrating, and communicating?
6. What impact does my leadership style have on the organizational culture?
7. Am I open to evolving my approach to better serve the organization's goals?
8. Do I inspire authenticity and alignment among my peers and subordinates?
9. How can I create a lasting legacy within the organization?
10. What steps can I take to transition from one level of value addition to the next in my career journey?
What are your responses telling you? Where do you need to focus your actions or your awareness? What do you need to shift, if anything?
Having been there myself, having worked with, groomed and coached over 150 managers to date, I know the challenges managers have when having to create value from each level. If you want to understand better how you can unleash your performance, let’s talk! I am the thinking partner of highly driven and courageous people who know they can be more and are serious and decided about their growth.
Your Management Performance Coach
Creating value in an organization hinges on the dynamic roles individuals play, each contributing uniquely towards collective objectives. It's crucial to recognize the different means of adding value - Doing, Integrating, and Communicating - to foster personal and organizational growth. Here's a distilled insight into these pivotal levels of value creation:
Doing is the bedrock of value, focused on executing tasks and achieving tangible results. Here, performance is linked to individual productivity, deadline adherence, and task efficiency. It's the realm where doers flourish, contributing towards immediate organizational objectives.
Integrating is the next rung on the ladder, demanding a broader perspective. It's about knitting disparate efforts into a coherent whole, ensuring seamless communication, and aligning actions across the board. At this level, success transcends personal achievement, spotlighting collective advancement and the ability to foster a collaborative environment.
Communicating transcends the tangible; it's about embodying and resonating the organization's ethos through actions. Individuals at this level mould organizational culture, setting a living blueprint for others to emulate. They bridge the gap between 'doing' and 'being,' inspiring authenticity and alignment throughout the organization.
Misalignments in hiring can severely hamper these levels of value creation, as illustrated through four managerial scenarios. A common thread in these scenarios is the importance of aligning individual capabilities with the demands of their roles to foster value creation on all three levels. Misfits not only hamper individual and collective performance but can erode the very culture and operational excellence that sustains an organization.
In conclusion, the journey through these levels of value creation is an evolutionary one, enriching both individuals and the organizational fabric. As a manager or an aspiring management professional, understanding and navigating these levels is crucial for career advancement and organizational success. Reflecting on one’s approach to doing, integrating, and communicating can unveil pathways to enhanced value contribution, fostering a legacy of authenticity, alignment, and impactful leadership within the organization.
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