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Discover the Secret to C-Suite Alignment & Boost Your Organization's Success 🚀

Uncategorized Feb 22, 2023
Discover the Secret to C-Suite Alignment & Boost Your Organization's Success 🚀

In this vlog post, I share my experience as a CEO and the importance of focusing on strategic priorities. I emphasize that a lack of focus in the C-suite can lead to burnout, unmet goals, and decreased employee engagement. I highlight the role of the CHRO in ensuring the alignment of the C-suite and share an exercise called the "sailboat exercise" to help identify and prioritize challenges.

The sailboat exercise involves drawing a sailboat and having team members write down what they think is moving the organization forward, followed by anonymously listing the factors holding the team back. Team members then vote on the top challenges, which can be used as a basis for addressing these issues.

I encourage feedback on the sailboat exercise and other methods to maintain alignment on strategic priorities in the C-suite.



Machine generated transcript below if you prefer to read:

If you're the CHRO for an organization, you have probably been drinking out of the fire hose for the last few years, and it's likely your organization is doing way too many things. And some of that is the nature of working in human resources. There's all the operationally-required things, compliance areas that you have to do, and then there are all the talent management areas that you know you need to get to in order to really help accelerate the growth of your organization and create great places to work, great employee experiences, and yet it can seem impossible.

Often, the root cause of this can be a senior leadership team that is not focused on their strategic priorities. And the trickle-down effect to the rest of the organization when the C-suite isn't focused on the strategic priorities is massive. It can really range from burnout, because people have so much going on that they can never finish anything and they can never feel the success, and that leads to burnout. It can lead to not meeting organizational goals because the resources that are available are spread way too thin, and ultimately, that leads to lack of employee engagement and retention because people aren't feeling successful. And I can attest to this because I was that CEO at one point.

In a fast-growth organization, we were growing so quickly, and when we were focused on the main things that helped us grow, we were good. When things started flattening out, I think I started doing the continuous learning thing, started reading books, looking at white papers, researching, and trying to find a way to help the organization grow. And what ultimately happened there is that every time I read something new and unique, I was kind of like, "Okay, let's do that." So it was like squirrel or shiny penny, in any case. So it was, I'm sure, very, very hard on our team.

Luckily, I'd put together an advisory board that wasn't our governance board, but it was a board that we could just really go into in a safe environment and talk through our challenges. And at one point, one of the advisory board members said, "Hey, how does this particular initiative tie into your strategic priorities?" And I was like, "What strategic priorities?" Anyways, that's a long story for another day.

But today, what I wanted to do is share with you a unique exercise that might help you get your team on the same page. If you're the CHRO, what happens with misalignment in the C-Suite team affects the entire organization. The ripple effect is harmful, it's not motivating, versus when you have a clear focus and path, the employees know what to do, everything runs so much more efficiently. And once we took this advice and really stuck to our strategic priorities, it really made a huge difference in how we executed. You know everybody's rowing in the same direction, it's understood where we should be spending our time, they know that they can call me out if I'm focused on something that I shouldn't be.

And so since the CHRO really has purview over the entire organization and, I think, is really responsible for making sure that the C-suite is aligned, even if they aren't, and so because there's not a Chief Priorities Officer for the organization, I think the person that really has an opportunity to shine and to show the organization how they can guide them into success is the CHRO or Chief People Officer.

You know, what really got me thinking about this was a couple weeks ago, we were at our mastermind group and we did an exercise about top topics that they wanted to discuss, and one was keeping the CEO on priorities. And so I thought I'd share an exercise I think would be quite effective, and I'd love your feedback on this, on how to keep the C-suite focused on strategic priorities, and this is called the sailboat exercise. And where I found this was with AJ&Smart. They're a professional facilitation training company, and they do facilitation for some of the largest tech firms in the world. And this is a great exercise to help find problems and challenges when it's pretty vague and you don't know exactly where to start, let's say, in a workshop or a leadership retreat. And the goal is to collect and prioritize challenges.

So how this works is you draw this sailboat with the water and anchor, and basically, you start by getting the team to write down what they think is moving the organization forward right on the sticky notes, and then they'll come up and present this. And this gets everybody excited and motivated. It's positive.

The second step is to then take the pink sticky notes and ask everybody to write on their own things that are holding them back as a team. And so they'll do this silently, and then we do not present this part. It's all anonymous. So it's a very inclusive exercise, by the way. And they will then put all their sticky notes up on the board.

The next step is then to do sort of a note and vote, right? Take the dots, sticky dots, and have them go up to the board and basically vote on the top challenges that are holding them back or what they think is holding the organization back. And then you can take all those challenges and then move into another exercise that will help you really focus on ideas to help solve these challenges.

Okay, I hope that's been helpful today. Let me know if you have any thoughts or ideas of how to keep the C-suite aligned on strategic priorities. Till next time.

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