How To Create Line of Sight For Your Employees

Posted by David Grossman on Wed, Feb 15, 2017


To drive engagement, help employees personalize strategy and understand how they fit in

I wrote recently about research from a myriad of sources that shows that employees overall don’t understand company strategy. Said another way, they don’t get how they fit in. And that’s a missed opportunity.

This “fit” is often called line of sight. Put simply, line of sight means that employees can see the connection between their goals and the organization’s goals.

The benefits are many – to ensure that employee’s best efforts are helping achieve the organization’s goals, as well as to help them know that the work they’re doing matters. Employees want to know they’re making a contribution to the larger whole, which helps drive engagement.

Creating line of sight

The goal is that employees can articulate how they fit in. Note that this isn’t about thinking they know, but being able to talk about the contributions they make. Sometimes, “talk can be cheap,” but this time “talk” – and the thought process that goes with it – can lead to improved focus and performance.

To get there, employees need to understand how they contribute to the organization’s success. First, they need a fundamental understanding of what’s important to the organization, including:

  • The organization’s vision and mission
  • Its strategy
  • The overall goals of the organization
  • Most important, the overall goals of their team

I often share the story of two brick layers who were hard at work. When asked what they were doing, the first brick layer said: “I’m building a wall.” When the other was asked, he said: “I’m building a castle.”

Employees need to know both their wall, and their castle:

  • What they do (this is the wall)
  • How they contribute (this is their castle)
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Make this the topic of your next staff meeting

How do you think your employees would do at answering these questions? Try this exercise at your next staff meeting: tell your employees that you want to ensure everyone is understanding the valuable role that they play in contributing to your organization’s success. After all, your team rocks!

Here are your 6 steps to success:

1. Challenge your employees to think about what they do and how they contribute in context of your team’s goals, as well as the organization’s overall strategy.
2. Tell them why this exercise is important.
3. Role model by sharing your answers – lead with your brilliance and inspiration!
4. Ask your employees to write down their answers.
5. Have everyone share one-at-a-time what they came up with. Promise thunderous applause! 
6. Provide feedback after everyone’s turn on what works (celebrate!) and what can be better about how a peer articulates how he or she fits in.

Chances are, many employees just see their tasks and not the bigger picture of how they contribute. You also might learn that there’s a need for your team to better understand the organization’s goals and strategy, too. Or, there’s not clarity on your team’s priorities.

No matter what the learnings, you’ve started an important discussion that you can continue regularly, and can form the basis of lots of celebration in the future. And what team can’t use even more celebration?

When do you plan to talk with your employees about how they fit in?

—David Grossman

In case you missed a previous post on this topic, Your Employees Don’t Get Your Strategy, you can read it here.

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Tags: Leadership Effectiveness & Planning

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