Create a united organisation through language

PeopleStrategy

Why lack of a unified company language is holding your business back.

Business leaders often feel that their team has taken on their own agendas and that when a meeting is held that each department, or person, is argumentative, critical of any ideas brought presented and not forthcoming with solutions of their own. I’ve written before about staff that display tendencies to be unproductive due to an overriding need to keep themselves safe (read “What to do when your staff are not actively engaged“) but another component to them not working as a part of a team is because there is no unified company language.

When a business does not have a clear purpose and create clear values and communicate these in an effective way, then the employees in the business will create these by default. They’ll conduct themselves in a way that suits their purpose, not because they want to be selfish or troublesome, but because without a clear roadmap then they’ll just drift in any direction simply because there is no plan. For a leader of an organisation, it is the difference between just existing as a company, or thriving!

What is a unified company language?

When you search on the internet about ‘company language’ most of the search results are about languages within a company. German, French, Mandarin or English, and how to make everyone communicate through one language. When I talk about company language, it’s much the same, but instead of an obvious language barrier holding back the business because of miscommunication, the company language I’m talking about runs much deeper.

The secret to a successful relationship, whether you both speak English or not is more to do with the alignment of values you both hold. When you both value the same things and have a common vision for where you want your relationship to go, then the actual language you speak can be overcome. However, if you both want different things and hold opposing views on ‘the important stuff’ (whatever that is to you), then even if you both speak English the relationship is not going to be a smooth one!

With a healthy functioning organisation, it’s the same. The values that the business has must exist, but the unified company language is how those values are communicated. The values need to resonate with your employees and to be real to them and not just a ‘to do list’ that might be stuck in the staffroom. There are many values that a company can uphold but, like the relationship example, they need to be important to everyone involved in order to unify the team. You’ve all got to want the same outcomes.

How to glue your organisation together with a unified company language

A unified company language can only come about by addressing four strategic elements in your business. These are critical tools for a company leader to really lead their teams, from the management and area heads to employees at the coal face. I’ve listed the four below:

1. Give them a purpose

If your teams lack cohesion it’s because they all have different views on what their purpose is. Sure the sales team might think their purpose is to get sales, but a company purpose will direct them as to why they need to make sales – that sales are to support the overriding purpose as to why the organisation exists.

2. Know where they’re going

With the outcomes of the purpose comes the vision. By outlining what the organisation is trying to achieve outward of two years, the purpose is more firmly cemented. The purpose (why you exist) and the vision (where you’re trying to get to) will ensure your different teams and branches are working toward the same objectives, that are more than just ‘to make sales’.

3. Know how to behave

Now that everyone and every team knows where the organisation is going and why it’s essential that every group conduct themselves in the same way.  The leader does this by clearly expressing the company values in order to demonstrate the acceptable behaviour. It’s not about standing over your teams and giving them a list of things they should and shouldn’t do, as you would a classroom. By educating them on the values of the business you’re leading them (as opposed to dictating to them) to ensure they conduct themselves in a way that is for the good of the organisation.

4. Know what to do and how to measure it

The fourth step in creating a unified company language is to take action and measure it! Without action, the above are just theory. Must Achieve Priorities (MAPs) are a way of creating real-life accountability within the organisation that runs deeper than their daily tasks. These MAPs provide the organisation with a roadmap on how to get there and more importantly, to know when you’ve got there!

Is your company speaking the same unified language? Take the test to see.