A lack of clarity can contribute to some of the most challenging, stressful, and sometimes dangerous moments we experience in business (and life). From not understanding the expectations or goals at work to driving down a mountain pass in near white-out conditions - clarity matters.
A reduction in clarity naturally creates a human response or behavior. People tend to move with more caution, restraint, and fear when clarity is reduced. On the other side, as clarity is increased, we see behaviors that are more intentional, directed, and appropriately paced.
Think about how we drive when clarity is reduced. What does that look like for you? Now think about how we behave when there is a lack of clarity at work. What does that look like for you?
In times of change, uncertainty, growth, or maintenance, increasing clarity helps organizations and individuals make better decisions. Clarity drives behaviors and actions that move organizations forward, aligned towards common goals.
Below, we've outlined a few simple steps to help us and our organizations increase clarity around direction, expectations, purpose, roles & key behaviors. We have found this type of an increase in clarity improves the likelihood our peers will bring strong performance to the table and that we will end up with authentic cultures - we hope this helps!
01 | Start with Organizational Goals
The goal here is simple - make sure we understand where we need our organization focused and the impacts we are going to make.
What are the top three goals the organization is trying to accomplish?
Why do these goals matter?
Who needs to know the goals?
How will accomplishing these goals impact our:
This won't be 100% perfect, but it should be clear enough that we can understand how we need to orient the teams and individuals within the organization to work towards these objectives.
Once we have clarity on the organization, let’s focus on departments & teams.
02 | Next, ensure teams & individuals have clarity on purpose and objectives.
Once we understand where the organization is headed, we need to ensure that our departments, teams & people are aware, aligned, and empowered.
Ensure Clarity for Departments/Teams
Why does each team exist? Why does our team matter?
What are the top three goals for this team/department?
Why do these goals matter?
How Does Each Team Operate?
How do we make decisions?
How do we communicate, collaborate & execute?
What are our meetings & rituals?
What are our workflows, tools & resources?
How are we growing & evolving as a team?
Increase Individuals' Expectations Through Role Clarity
Here, we go from thinking about teams to the impact each individual has on the team.
What are the top three primary responsibilities and goals for this role?
Why do these responsibilities & goals matter?
What are the additional or secondary responsibilities and goals for this role?
Why are these secondary responsibilities?
What is the most important priority each individual should focus on first?
At this point, we should be on the path to increase clarity, expectations, and orientation for our organizations, departments, teams & individuals. The last thing we need to focus on, and possibly the most important, is the behaviors we need for the entire organization to embody in order for us to impact the organization's output and culture.
03 | Confirm the Key Behaviors That Matter Most
Increasing clarity, roles, goals & priorities matters for nothing if they are not met and driven by key behaviors. Simply put, the manifestation of the organization's performance & culture simply comes down to behaviors.
Leaders and employees' behaviors drive the organization's performance and culture. It isn't the beer fridge; it isn't the cool furniture or foosball table - it is how we behave that truly determines the performance and culture of a company. So let's take a few minutes to focus on behaviors that matter to your organization, customers & employees.
Values = Behaviors
Values should be a bedrock for how we behave as an organization. As so many realities shift, the values should serve as a foundation for direction, orientation, and expectations in both calm and chaotic moments.
What are the organization’s top values? What behaviors do they drive, and why do they matter?
Outside of your values, what are some short or long-term key behaviors that will best support the organization's growth and performance? Why do they matter?
The last question, what is the most important behavior leaders must lead with? Why does this behavior matter?
The most important part of this exercise is simply to be deliberate about how we want to act and what we expect out of ourselves and one another. Taking a few minutes, hours, or even days to slow down to increase clarity makes all the difference when leading organizations through uncertain, or critical moments.
Hopefully, these points of reflection and contemplations will increase the clarity and purpose of any organization.