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Management Resource Library

What are the Disconnects in Your Organization?

Every organization has some disconnects in their business model or operations. Acknowledging that fact is a healthy first step. Some are obvious while many lurk undetected due to complacency, cultural blinders or simply bad habits.

Some are internal inconsistencies which in theory are easier to fix while some are due to external factors which might be beyond the control of the impacted organization.

An example of an internal inconsistency for an NFL Team might be a stated emphasis on the passing game while not having any wide receivers that are able or willing to catch a ball in heavy traffic and to take a hard hit for the team. For some organizations the disconnect is so obvious that it becomes a recognized oxymoron such as Internal Revenue Service, government intelligence, or congressional deliberation.

An example of an internal-external disconnect might be a bus company who has a commitment and responsibility to public safety while the "privacy rights of its employees" restrict the ability to do extensive background checks, obtain reliable and meaningful prior employer recommendations, enact strict disciplinary policies and perform periodic drug testing on the very drivers closest to the public. Obviously these inconsistencies are more difficult to deal with but that is why they pay you the big bucks to find and to fix them.

Here are a few suggestions that might help:

  • Have an internal process to serve as a early detection system to look for those issues, policies and procedures that do not appear in harmony. Sometimes it's like the old Pogo observation, "we have met the enemy and he is us." The sooner you recognize the disconnect and address it the better.
  • Encourage employee reporting of disconnects. The ones on the front lines with the customers are often well aware of the problems. There is a fine line between enabling employee grumblings or complaints and giving serious deliberation to issues impacting the performance of the organization. Reward and recognize employees who make a serious contribution.
  • Review the overall organizational business plan and the individual plans (I hope you have these) to make sure they are aligned and in harmony with each other. Make sure your strategies and your tactics are logically connected. The larger and more diverse your organization the bigger will be your challenge.
  • Review stated organizational objectives with available organizational strengths and weaknesses. A mismatch here shows there is work to be done. You might need an action plan to mitigate an existing weakness or enhance an existing strength to improve your chances for success.
  • Make sure your communications are consistent and that they are not in conflict with stated goals and objectives. Your team members, customers and advisers should hear a focused and consistent message.

Disconnects are like little pebbles in your shoes. They cry out for attention but too often we choose to alter our walking style to let them remain with us. Try to embed a healthy "seek and destroy" process in your operation.