The best-run organizations not only have a strategy everyone understands, but they connect employee behaviors to achieving that strategy. This becomes very powerful when each and every employee is engaged by a compelling purpose and knows what to do in order to achieve that purpose.
While vision and mission statements are great for calm, contemplative moments, these are few and far between for most people in the thick of a busy workday, particularly in the interrupt-driven world of Support and Shared Services. Today, with volumes of information available to both customers and employees, deciding what to do in the absence of clear direction can become paralyzing. If your team is in the middle of raging seas in a life raft in pitch darkness, with winds howling all around and no way of knowing which way to go, how do they decide what to do next? The guidepost statement will guide their actions.
So, what exactly is a guidepost statement?
A short phrase of accountability that your team can use as its driving force. If a vision statement is your ultimate goal, and a mission statement describes the ongoing activities that will help you get there, a guidepost statement describes your team’s #1 priority. That phrase should inform their answer to the question “What should I do now?” each and every time they ask it.
This ability to choose the right path among competing alternatives becomes even more critical as computers increasingly augment human intelligence and creativity by removing mundane and repetitive tasks. Do you take care of this customer or pick from the ever-growing backlog and take care of that one? Can you figure out who to bring in to collaborate on this complex issue? Or should you help out your team by creating knowledge articles that can save everyone time?
Guideposts and managers
Guideposts allow middle and senior managers to become player-coaches, rather than just interpreting strategy from above and translating it for people below to do. It allows them to be assertive to drive outcomes and smash obstacles along with creating a clear sense of accountability. A guidepost statement can help workers quickly eliminate any number of inappropriate options that don’t align with their priorities.
How do you choose a guidepost statement?
It should be short and memorable, something workers can easily remember and to which they’ll refer often.
It should offer enough wiggle room so that employees aren’t locked into one specific path but are encouraged to choose from an array of smart options that meet the customer’s individual need.
It also should be validated by other groups. This eliminates confusion. After all, I can declare myself the king of my country, but if no one else agrees with it, then it doesn’t matter, does it? So, does the Sales team agree with the guidepost statement? Does Engineering? Is it unique enough?
Some of the best guidepost statements I’ve heard include “We own subscriber loyalty” and “We are the customer’s technical advocate within the company.” This helps us demand things on behalf of the customer. These work especially well because they align with the enterprise’s broader business goals, so employees understand how their daily routine contributes to the company’s overall success.
Your guidepost statement should be based on the guiding principles you’ve established for your team, the parameters you’ve set to ensure that you build the work environment and team relationships that contribute to a positive, impactful workplace culture.
Not sure what those are? You might need to take a step back for a moment and determine your guiding principles first. Once you do, your guidepost statement will most likely reveal itself.
As you will see – choosing and living by a good Guidepost statement will have a huge impact in what you measure (or don’t) and why.
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Seek to understand before you seek to solve.