Line of Sight: Connecting What People Do With The Results They Create

Our last Leadership Report generated interest in open book management, a concept that represents the purest form of organizational transparency. In this issue,  I want to discuss what high performers do to create line of sight.

But first, let me back up.

The classic definition of employee engagement is:

  • People share the organization’s values and identify with its purpose. This is often referred to as cognitive identity.
  • People are willing to go the extra mile to make the organization a success. When they’re confronted by how-to-act options, they’ll choose the course of action that best meets the organization’s operating or financial goals. This is often referred to as discretionary effort.

I was part of a team that studied employee engagement after the Northridge, California Earthquake in 1994.  In that study we identified four conditions that are required for people to be actively engaged.

  1. Line of sight
  2. Autonomy or involvement
  3. Intense information sharing
  4. WIIFM, or what’s in it for me?

I’ll use future “Leadership Reports” to address the other three conditions.

What is Line of Sight in terms of employee engagement?

Line of sight means that people can see a direct line between the organization’s vision and strategy (big picture) and the work they perform.  They have learned how to connect the dots between the big picture and their job.  Building line of sight requires intense on-going communication.

One of our clients created a document for each department in the organization. The work of each department was translated specifically into how that work affected operating income (OI).

Every day, small groups of employees in this organization come together around a scoreboard and review how they’re doing—and what they can do—to improve OI. They talk specifically about ways they can contribute to the improvements.

  • Sales people know: “When I get my order in on time I contribute to on-time delivery to the customer which, in turn, can affect cash flow.” They also need to understand what cash flow is and why it’s important.
  • Operators on the factory floor know: “When I follow standard work to get this part made I’m likely to avoid creating scrap or re-work. The job will be done right the first time.”

People with line-of-sight, autonomy and abundant information know how they will benefit when the organization is successful.  These folks are engaged, turned on and make it a lot easier for the organization to win.
Do the people in your organization have line of sight?

Key Takeaway:  Line of Sight helps people connect the dots between the job they do every day and their organization’s business strategies and goals.

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