PEOPLE STRATGY FORUM

EPISODE #20

Kimberly Arnold

How To Keep Your Talented Employees From Leaving: The Importance Of Alignment With Kimberly Arnold

Being aligned with not just the C-suite but with all employees, across all levels, is important. Did you know that a millennial will stay at a company for an average of between six and 12 months? People these days want to do something that has a purpose. They want to work for someone who cares about them and has great leadership. Join your hosts Sam Reeve & Char Miller as they talk to Kimberly Arnold on what it takes to achieve alignment in an organization. Kimberly is the CEO of Escalate Solutions. She is also an advisor/consultant to Waypoint Ventures. Learn why everyone in a company needs to be in alignment, from employee to stakeholder. Align with your team today so you can accomplish your company’s mission!

How To Keep Your Talented Employees From Leaving: The Importance Of Alignment With Kimberly Arnold

We’re very excited to have you all here. A little bit about the show if you’re new with us, it is a mastermind of leaders dedicated to creating workplaces where people thrive, employers reward and customers love. That’s a little bit about our mission here and what we try to achieve. Speaking of mission, it will tie into what we’re talking about.

To introduce myself, my name is Jules. I’m an On-Camera and Video Coach. I have a lot of experience in the entertainment industry. On-camera is my love and my passion. We have an awesome panel of hosts here as well. We have Char, who is a people strategist and has so much experience in the world of HR. She’s a real HR expert and runs her own company. She has been running her business from Puerto Vallarta. If you need help working remotely, she’s your go-to gal. We have Sam, who is the Founder and CEO of CompTeam. His superpowers lie in compensation programs and talent management.

I’m excited to introduce Kimberly Arnold. She is a strategic advisor, management consultant and leadership coach. She helps businesses both small and medium with strategy operations and technology. What she does is she goes into businesses, helps them figure out their mission and vision and helps align it into employee performance. This ties into what CompTeam does as well. Sam, you have your Twelve Pillars or the Workforce Experience Scorecard.

It’s going to be a fun conversation. We love to compare notes. It will be great.

Our topic for this session is From Strategy to Employee Performance: The Importance of Aligning Stakeholders. Kimberly, I’m going to let you have the floor. Welcome. We can’t wait to hear what you have to share.

Thank you all for the warm introduction and thanks for having me. Sam and I have been chatting, particularly in the environment that we have been in for 2020. We were comparing notes about what we’re seeing in the space and our different advisory roles. At the end of the day, every consideration all comes back to the people, whether it be internal or your customer base, finding strategies that can get us through this period.

We talk a lot about the VUCA environment. That’s an acronym that we’ve all heard for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. I have even heard some clients and customers talking about replacing that complexity with chaos throughout 2020. We’re talking about alignment and something important in business strategy and execution long before the pandemic hit but even more so in aligning all of the stakeholders toward whatever mission it is that you’re working toward or have pivoted toward.

Kimberly, let’s talk about VUCA quickly. We have talked about it a few times on the forum. It’s important to realize that this is not a new term. This came out a long time ago and it has been refreshed because of what we’re going through.

The experience that I’ve had with it and the perception has been because of the technology and our age of digital transformation, how quickly businesses are evolving, how fast life cycles are shifting, going from launch, growth, scaling to long-term viability, repeating and reinventing, how many companies are coming to the market and constant new competition. That has been the context that I’ve experienced up until COVID and then it took on an entirely new meaning when so many companies were disrupted, having to reinvent and pivot.

Control what you can control. Break things down into little pieces. Alleviate all of your other issues. Click To Tweet

It’s not just COVID but there’s the force introduction of remote work for a lot of people. We have been talking with Char. Even having internet access, computers across the world and pieces like that as far as technology to enable the workforce has become even more critical. Kimberly used to specialize in digital enablement as well in your practice. It’s good to have your expertise here.

Even before COVID, you and I have had a conversation about organizations that were already on that path, how differently they were able to respond, at least in terms of timeframes, to some of the challenges that arose in 2020. I have five strategies that I will bring to the table for an organization that is feeling like they are doing their best to navigate this VUCA environment. The first one is always to control what you can control. That’s an alignment in and of itself to work with your team, ecosystem and customers to figure out what your strengths and resources are, be able to tackle your problems and challenges by relying on what you do best.

In the digital transformation space and technology, they talk about strategies such as microsystems and containers where you break things down from a software perspective into small packages. That way, if you need to make a change, you don’t have to modify the entire system. That mentality, even for organizations that are not tech-based, is useful. Control what you can control, break things down into little pieces, alleviate all of the other issues and focus there first. That’s number one.

Let’s dive into this a little bit more because I see a lot of managers get hung up on this. It’s almost like the seven stages of grief that they go through before they realize, “I need to control what I can control.” An example of that is frustration. For instance, something that we couldn’t control in 2021 is the force moving into remote work. Those knowledge workers had to go outside and work from their homes during that quarantine phase or if they’re in quarantine.

That’s something that cannot be controlled. A lot of managers got hung up on that and they were not able to think about other things such as enablement, reprioritization and direction in that environment. What have you seen there as far as the complications that leaders have had in that element?

You nailed the biggest one and that is those who had not already embraced these concepts of technology, remote work, work from home, distance learning in the educational space and being able to find that connectivity, back to the word alignment, among the team when you were not all physically in one place. Some organizations were able to embrace that and some struggled. That’s the number one thing I’ve seen.

I imagine the benefit of working with you. In this environment, if a leader is caught up there, you can coach them and say, “This is something that we can’t control. These are the things that we need to start thinking about.” Is that some of the guidance you bring?

Absolutely. I’ll jump to number four. It’s prioritizing and using communication and collaboration to improve your operational agility, adaptability, efficiency, scale, speed, scope and reach. The number one way to do that is through technology. It’s amazing. The sophistication of the tools and what it allows us to do to maximize performance in an environment like this is an opportunity not to be missed. There’s so much out there. It’s almost impossible not to be able to stay on track if those types of solutions are embraced.

Employee Alignment

Employee Alignment: VUCA originated from the age of digital transformation – how quickly businesses were evolving. That’s been the context up until COVID, and then it took on an entirely new meaning in the last year.

 

In terms of prioritization, I’ve worked with some clients that weren’t prepared when they went into the remote work phase, so they had to do a big shift. When they were looking at technology and employee enablement, the first thing is, “We got to do everything at once.” They used the shotgun approach and didn’t think of a lot of the steps that they needed to take.

For instance, in implementing software, you have to go through the requirements phase, think about structuring it appropriately, communicate to your employees and training managers how to use it. Is there certain guidance you would give to organizations as far as how could they learn to prioritize better when they’re coming into an event when everything seems to be needed all at once?

You’re touching upon some other discussions we’ve had in terms of agile practices. That’s breaking down into smaller pieces these tasks at hand and applying specific multipurpose teams that can address those tasks. Keep the teams small so that they are adaptable and fast. You don’t want to overwhelm any type of focus area with too many people.

Once you do that and you can say, “We have these five challenges,” come up with a solution for each and break that down into assignments, that’s about the challenge that people have even on the highest levels of developing strategy. I’ve never walked in to work with a client that didn’t have an idea in their strategic plan already. It’s typically about, “How do I take this down to the most day-to-day level in accomplishing what I’m trying to do day-by-day?”

It’s the same practice with prioritization and recognizing, “These are our five main things.” They’re usually figuring out what your challenges are. That’s usually not too difficult. You’re aware that your cashflow is reduced and your patrons are not able to come in. You have to set up safety protocols. Those types of things that came up are pretty apparent. It’s making sure that you have the right people to address those issues, get on it and do it quickly.

Can we dive into that a little bit deeper with a story? You’ve had some clients in the food and beverage area that have had to make adjustments and so forth. Are there some stories or lessons learned that you can tell us about?

I had given an example of a catering company. I also advised a restaurant industry advisor who herself was working with an entire range of organizations. They were all rapidly embracing the digital technologies and apps, standing up delivery, curbside service and ordering those types of tools and systems. Most came back to the technology solutions and some type of app or communication tool to stand that up.

The agile movement has been tested through this entire experience. I’m constantly being contacted by programmers out there of apps and devices that can build certain things for me in my practice. As a business, it’s important to understand that there are not just off-the-shelf solutions but custom solutions have been easier to build more than ever. A lot of these are modular as far as people can develop them quickly.

There are so many integrations where you can even do it yourself without even knowing the code if you use the right software solutions. Microsoft has one, as an example, as part of their Power BI solution. Their Power Apps are related to it. One of the surprising things a lot of organizations have told me is that they didn’t realize they would have done it a long time ago, how simple it could be and how much of an impact it could have on their operations.

Figure out what your challenges are and have the right people to address those issues quickly. Click To Tweet

It’s a good point learning from a business overall. Sometimes it takes a shock for us to restrategize and grow. I have a personal piece that I go for and by. If I ever feel comfortable, then I’m not doing enough to grow, pursue or move forward. That’s something that we should self-reflect regularly. Do we feel like we’re challenging ourselves? Are we designing something new? Is our products and services on the shelf for too long? We haven’t adopted those. That’s important to have in a regular process.

You’re touching upon another one of those strategies of recognizing. You stabilize, prioritize and recognize. You have to identify those gaps and pain points, not just in your organization but for the customers that you have. If you want to stick to a restaurant-type example, they had customers that were afraid to come in or couldn’t come in. Reduce cashflow and try to retain your labor force. If they need pay, they may go somewhere else.

You’ve lost your distribution that has been disrupted. You want to try to stand up and still be there for your guests and patrons. You have to figure out part of that solution. It’s as much looking internally at what the challenges are for you. The positive of that is if you can figure out what those pain points and gaps are for your customer base, then you can come up with innovative solutions that address those pain points and increase your value proposition to those individuals.

Char, you have an example there. In Rocky Mountain Health Advocates, you have locations in malls and so forth. From a business perspective, you needed people to feel comfortable to come back and visit your outlets or stores.

We had to go through how we brand our company. We used to sell one product but we consider ourselves health advocates. As health advocates, we have brought in our services to about five different primary products as well as health advocacy services and bringing in key experts around health advocacy that are beyond your traditional health care.

Dealing with the VUCA environment and all the changes that happened in 2020, we had to look at our talent management strategy, be extremely agile to adjust to the new environment and help our communities, clients and employees feel comfortable coming into our locations. Out of my years of HR and talent management experience, it took a lot for me to overcome the challenges and realize that adaptability and flexibility were primary and key to overcoming. 2020 became one of the very best and most profitable years we’ve ever experienced.

That’s the perfect example of what I was saying. It’s like what technology used to be. IT used to be a department. We don’t have that anymore. Technology influences everything. You could say the same thing. Every business, regardless of what vertical or ecosystem they’re in, they’re a health and wellness business. Those that do provide that as your service or product, everybody is your target. To hear you say that even though it was difficult to do it, you recognized that and were able to then scale your scope, reach and speed to respond to that need that you saw, that’s brilliant. That’s exactly what is supposed to happen.

From a compliance standpoint, we need to understand the technologies that we needed for telehealth, HIPAA and protecting PHI or Protected Health Information. Technology-wise, we realized that we needed the talent to be able to come into each of our locations, particularly in the locations where we have what is called kiosks as well storefronts. We didn’t have the capabilities within the company to understand the technologies that we needed to move to the telehealth concept.

Employee Alignment

Employee Alignment: Organizations need to embrace these concepts of technology, remote work, and work from home. They need alignment among the team. If they don’t embrace that, they’ll really struggle.

 

That was very vital. Why a majority of all of our competitors went out of business is because they couldn’t keep up with the technology, the compliance and working through those challenges. Sam, you’d be surprised that I’m not the best at technology but I also know how to find the talent, at least for our locations, to be able to overcome those challenges. Telehealth is a whole new dimension. That is where healthcare is going.

That’s part of being a great leader though, Char. Leaders don’t need to know everything but they need to know enough to where they go out and get the expert for that particular area. As you can see, something that kept you in the business where your competitors went out is the fact that you went out, sought and got that expertise to bring it into the organization.

One other thing I wanted to bring up is one of the gaps that a lot of my clients have found during the pandemic is there were a lot of people out of work, yet few people were looking for jobs during that time because they were afraid to go to work. That goes into your energize area here, Kimberly, as far as attracting new people in and energizing your current workforce.

Employers are starting to fulfill a role. There’s almost a comfort expectation that comes from the employer in the vein of what you were describing and also, regardless of what you provide if you’re a product company or a service-based business, making sure that you are doing something bigger and beyond yourself, that’s what gets people excited. Part of alignment is getting people energized and invested in what you do.

One of the trends that we saw before the pandemic but even more so in 2020 is the importance of difference-making and CSR, which is corporate social responsibility. People want to have a higher impact. That’s true from an employer-employee relationship about empowering people to do more in the day-to-day. It’s also important in terms of energizing people around a higher mission and a reach where you have an impact on your overall community ecosystem and beyond depending on what it is that you’re trying to do.

That’s why we rebranded ourselves to Rocky Mountain Health Advocates and also looked at the career mobility that we had internal talent that had higher expertise in reforming healthcare. We worked hard. Sam Reeve and the CompTeams company also helped us in a variety of ways to use career mobility and identify those positions that promote health advocacies in our communities. Some of our employees volunteer in multiple areas in the communities that relate to positive health. It’s not just holistic. I’m talking about real solid health care.

It has been phenomenal. We’ve had an amazing year. It’s very important. Also, it’s important to grow and help your leaders understand how to grow that talent. We are working on that on 2021. Our talent management strategy is how to help our leaders take on the value system. Our values are compassion, dignity and respect. That goes for not only our employees but also for our communities.

That’s a great example of what Kimberly was talking about. It’s understanding what the company mission and vision are, seeing how people are aligned internally and externally with the company on how they can make a difference there. We’ve gone through many examples of how to do this internally and ensure that there’s internal alignment. As far as social responsibility, how have you seen companies reposition themselves to support their mission and vision externally outside the company?

If you have a mission for your business, you need to align with your workers so that they don't leave. Click To Tweet

There are countless examples specific in 2020 related to COVID. It was as simple sometimes as a donation to a group that was helping. Food banks are one example. I know five organizations that I have a relationship with that made it their business to collect food or make donations to the food banks. They sent their staff, gave them a day off to go work at these food banks and helped with distribution.

You’ve seen restaurants that were struggling that didn’t have the clientele. They stand up an entire system to go and feed healthcare workers. They’re sending their staff and all of their resources to go out and support the frontline workers. It’s the same with the police, fire and so many others who were still doing what they had to do even though there was such a risk.

There’s a major push towards sustainability. I have some interesting data and this is about what we were talking about. What’s important to consumers in terms of how they make their decisions and to employees in terms of where they want to work? The alignment comes from first recognizing those trends and how the company responds both in terms of being a place where people want to work as well as providing a service or product that people will get on board and choose that organization because of what they do in terms of their corporate social responsibility.

There’s one interesting statistic even before 2020. I was presenting at a conference for a women’s technology group, talking about the issue of empowerment and the expectation of emerging leaders. I found a statistic that said that some Millennials, when asked how long they would stay at an organization and be considered loyal, the average was between 6 and 12 months. I’m sure in your practice you’ve seen similar trends. If you have a mission for your business, you need to attract and keep highly effective workers who can help you engage and achieve that strategy.

I’ve seen a statistic. Fifty-three percent of workers said that having a job that can make an impact is important to their overall life’s happiness. Forty-six percent said that a lack of transparent leadership and communication with them is what drove them to seek new employment if they had changed jobs within 2020. Seventy-five percent of consumers will give their business to a company that supports an issue that they agree with. There are countless other data that you can point to that says that people care about what companies do when they are deciding if they’re going to work with them and buy from them.

There’s more choice out there than ever. People not only have a choice of who they purchase their goods and services from but also who they work for. This is a great piece. We need to have more focus more than ever on the workforce experience and how people are aligned in the organization.

It has become more important even than price. People will pay more money to buy from an organization that they think is a difference-maker in an area where they care about.

If I may add, I worked with two very major health care companies and sat at the executive table in charge of culture and talent management. There was always confusion and disconnection with what the employees perceived of the executive team. The employees were very careful not to tell the patients what they thought of the company.

Ultimately, it affected the reputation of those two major health organizations. Patients felt like they couldn’t trust this company because of the lack of trust between the executive team and the frontline employees. Employees, even though they were not supposed to but behind closed doors, were sharing things with the patients about the executive team and the lack of trust.

Employee Alignment

Employee Alignment: Look internally at what the challenges are for you. Then the positive of that is if you can figure out what the pain points and the gaps are for your customer base.

 

It’s very important to have that trust internally. There are a couple of models around this as we’re looking at the full cycle of a company, coworker and customer or client. I call that the three-legged stool. Those are very integrated. How you treat your internal employees impacts the customer experience that they have and determines whether that customer is going to continue to come back to that business. It’s important to make sure that we treat our internal employees to have the same experiences as our customers would have.

This last point is to maximize. We talked about stabilizing, energizing, recognizing and prioritizing. The maximizing comes from this idea of aligning all the stakeholders around the mission and leveraging every possible resource and contributor. Those are both internal and external resources. The larger of an organization you are, the broader that reach is.

It could be the vendors in your supply chain or if you’re in professional services, it could be a consultant that you work with. You realize you have to juggle. That’s the alignment. You have to find the value between what your organization wants to do and your relationship with your employees, your customers and their customers. That, in and of itself, is an alignment exercise that has to be revisited every single day.

Tell us a little bit more about how you help companies with this, Kimberly. How do you help with that alignment and show them what their needs are?

I was asked in another session like this what people would find the most surprising. One of the things that I thought of is that what I’m hired to do typically or why a client outreaches to me, 9 times out of 10, it’s not what I end up working with them on. At least it might be part of it but there’s always something else or a backstory. They tend to all be related to alignment.

I’ll give you one example. I was contacted by a professional services firm. They were specifically looking for guidance regarding their marketing department or at least, so they thought. When I went in, they had an executive transition. The COO was fulfilling the interim CEO role and there was another partner. Within fifteen minutes, it became very clear what the issue was and it was alignment-based. That was that they had been in growth mode.

As you see in a lot of professional services firms, there are associates, junior partners, partners and so many decision-makers. They had about 300 internal stakeholders, about half of which you would describe as a junior or an emerging leader. The other half is more seniors about to retire. They had very different ideas about their strategy, mission and what they were going to do to achieve that.

As you would expect, the younger emerging leaders were much more risk-tolerant. They wanted to take on debt and grow in every possible way organically, vertically, horizontally and geographically. You had others who, especially those about to retire, saying, “We don’t have that tolerance.” It’s finding that balance.

Getting back to the original point of why they had engaged me was the alignment. They thought the issue was marketing but the reality was the marketing department had no idea what their day-to-day direction was because they were being told different things, even the geographic markets and where they were supposed to be looking.

Make sure every single contributor understands their role in an organization at a level that's appropriate to them. Click To Tweet

It’s one example of how you go in, ask strategic questions and make observations. The other tool that I always use is don’t just meet with the C-Suite. They’re going to be the ones that hire me most likely but I make sure if I get the opportunity to come in and sit down with team members, I do so at every single level so that I can hear and see the perspectives and see if the alignment is what the senior leadership thinks.

I do the same thing when I’m evaluating the workforce experience. In my first meet with leadership, I ask them, what are they trying to deliver to their customer and the people in the company? They will go through their process but you need to meet with those employees to see if they’re receiving that, feeling that and that message is getting across clearly. Often I find that there’s always misalignment somewhere.

It’s human nature. It’s okay. In their defense, it’s always easier when you come out, from my perspective as a third party. I’m not seeing what they’re seeing every day. I’ve owned four businesses. The first two companies that I was an owner of were rapidly growing diversifying. The first was an Inc. 500 company, the fastest-growing small business. The second went from 1 division to 8 and worked all over the world. That does happen inherently when you’re in that type of mode. It also helps that I’m in this role as an advisor because I can come into an environment, make observations and ask certain questions that you don’t think about sometimes.

Would you not agree that is also important about authenticity and being transparent with your employees? I’ve worked in a company with 159,000 employees and they had a lot of duplication of very major positions. I’ll pick one, process improvement departments and project managers. Every single department had its project manager and all the project managers were very misaligned. They weren’t aligned across the entire organization.

One, from a financial perspective, it’s very expensive. Two, it causes mass confusion at the front line. I would have rather that we had transparency and honesty without threatening the people in the positions. We need to pull all the project managers together, have some alignment and transparency and talk about how we can work better together for the sake of the organization.

That does sound like the traditional model of operating in silos as opposed to these cross-functional teams. Those are the types of communication strategies that are enabled by technology and coordinating these quick conversations among teams. The software tools hold people accountable. They’re sophisticated enough. Some of them are more of an investment than smaller or mid-sized businesses want to take on at some point in time.

If you do, you can have a software system and overall ecosystem in terms of technology. You set up your meetings and everything is recorded. If you can’t make the meeting, you can follow up on what was done. You integrate your workflow mapping about every single person and what they’re doing. You are getting email alerts if you haven’t responded to somebody and everybody else is aware.

You can use things like Slack and certain channels that allow people to communicate quickly and allow senior leadership to see those communications. You can set up those portals of integration between all the project managers in the various roles or departments and automate that in a way using the technology instead of the silos that leave people to be frustrated and leave.

Employee Alignment

Employee Alignment: 53% of workers say that having a job that can make an impact is important to their life’s happiness. 46% said that lack of transparent leadership and communication is what drove them to seek new employment.

 

From our perspective, when we talk about alignment and employee alignment, we’re big fans of the TMA Method, which aligns a person’s inner drive and ambitions with the position of the company and what the company’s looking for. It helps them find the best person with the most passion and talent for that job. It also is a coaching platform for people to create alignment and give them the skills.

We have Abdullah on here. He’s saying that he likes Monday.com. We use Monday.com internally. I find that it is a great tool and very helpful. Kimberly, you mentioned Slack as well. I have struggled to get on Slack myself and use that. What are the tools that you’re seeing a lot with your clients that are very effective in employee communication and alignment?

I have also been familiar with Monday. I utilize Slack and Microsoft Teams as the primary. It depends on the organization and its function. There are too many to even be mentioned. You even start to see these contact relationship management or CRM tools. It’s not just a contact database. Salesforce is another common that everybody’s using.

It starts to reach out. If it doesn’t have that system, it has an integration where you can tie that back into something to track your workflows, calendars and communication back to project teams and whiteboards if you are using that type of approach. There are so many. Even for agile, automated whiteboards, if you search, you could find 50 of them.

I don’t represent any technology solution. I always encourage them, “If you’re picking out one, look at the integrations and see what else you can pair it with.” If you need to get to the point of a payment system or anything else that you want to layer on, look for things that are as compatible with everything else as much as possible. If you are on the cloud, there are all of the major providers, AWS, GCP, which is Google Cloud Platform and Azure, which is Microsoft. If you’re in those environments, all of those solutions can be very quickly tapped into and related.

Kimberly, let’s switch gears a little bit here. I would like to hear about this other model that you have here. Could you explain a little bit about this?

I wanted to clarify. When we talk about stakeholder alignment, verify first what those definitions are. With the stakeholders, everyone is impacted. That’s the C-Suite, management team, employees, clients, your entire ecosystem, vendors and everybody. As far as alignment, to me, that means every single contributor understands the strategy and their role in achieving it at a level that’s appropriate to them.

What do I mean by that? I think about quantifying people in terms of how much control and engagement they have. At the top, you would think of the leaders. These are the people who are responsible for directing, championing and making the decisions about the organization. They have the highest control and engagement. You also have influencers whose primary responsibility is to encourage, energize and motivate. They make that contribution less control but higher engagement.

You have your sponsors and funders appraising, supporting and investing. In most cases, that gives them a lot of control but not as much engagement. They tend not to be as involved day-to-day. Sometimes the sponsors and influencers would swap places in terms of how much engagement they have. Generally, it’s how we’re looking at it here.

Giving orders and telling people what to do is not attributed to alignment. Click To Tweet

Last but not least is your implementers. These are your frontline people. These are the ones that when it comes to alignment, you have to engage and incite them to produce. Most importantly, if they’re the people you want to keep, the alignment helps them stay. That helps with retention. What each person needs in terms of the messaging that they get about the company, the strategy and their role in achieving are broad parameters of what the responsibilities and needs are in each of those buckets.

I’m happy to hear you talking about the control that a particular person has over certain metrics or goals. In my practice, I use that a lot when we’re looking at creating metrics for a particular pay plan for individuals. We call it line of sight so that the ability for somebody to make a difference on that particular metric or goal is quite critical.

A lot of companies come out and think, “We’re trying to do this to the workplace and accomplish this in the environment for our customers.” For some people in the company, that concept is tough. They don’t understand the path to get there. Break down the steps so that people can see the path, understand what they can influence and make an impact.

It goes beyond buy-in. Alignment isn’t being told what you’re going to do and people doing it. Those are orders and follow-through. The goal is to inspire investment not financially per se, sometimes yes but to have the people who are part of your group be invested in what it is that you’re trying to do. When that happens, it does help the employees get through certain responsibilities and activities that they have to do that perhaps are tedious, monotonous and not as easy to get through. If they’re doing that and understand that it’s part of something that’s more important and will make a difference 2 or 3 months down the road, that’s an easier pill to swallow than going through the motions of something that you don’t understand why it is that you’re doing it, to begin with.

There’s one other critical point. It’s good to break things down into bite-sized chunks, line of sight, which I do believe is important but we need to come full circle. We started this conversation by talking about clarity of mission and vision and having those guiding principles that the entire company should know about so that they can operate and know what to do in their context. If we don’t know what direction we’re pointing to and what we’re trying to achieve as a large goal, it’s difficult for us to make decisions in our paradigm and make those correct decisions to ensure that we’re aligned in that similar direction.

It’s also extremely vital to understand your talent because, in each of those roles, there’s an amazing talent. Who are your influencers in the company? Oftentimes, the senior leaders don’t know until you understand who they are. It’s very important to take the time and investment to get to know who your people are and see where they fit. We had a little question here from Abdullah. “The model is interesting because I see a nice categorization with no hierarchy in place and the implementer is as important as a leader and so on.” Would you agree?

Absolutely. They do tend to have less control in decision-making in the hierarchy of the business. These are the people that are working directly, especially with your vendors, providers and particularly customers. It’s critical to help them and give them the information that they need to engage, produce and stay properly. If they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing, they’re helping you achieve that mission and particularly those if they’re client-facing. The bigger that you get as an organization, every single stakeholder matters.

You’re not always going to see everybody. I keep going back to the agile practices but the all-hands is a way for a very quick 15 or 30-minute meeting. I have them with nonprofits and clients that I work with. It’s a way for them to hear from leadership. The communications are in the chat. You can’t have 150 people on a Zoom and give everybody a voice. It doesn’t work.

Employee Alignment

Employee Alignment: Don’t just meet with the C-suite. Make sure that you get the opportunity to come in and sit down with the team members at every single level.

 

You can hear from senior leadership and tell them, “This is what we accomplished and what we’re working on.” It’s nice. The bigger the group, the more important it is to have that tie straight to the C-Suite or CEO. Let them hear and remind them what you’re doing and what it’s all about. Among the teams individually, those small cross-functional teams should do that all the time, find ways to communicate across all of those and use the technology to do it. That’s important.

Thank you, Kimberly. We’re huge fans of the TMA Method. The great thing about the TMA is it’s a communication tool that helps you have better discussions and get to know your people a lot better. From a personal aspect, you can take this assessment and learn a little bit more about what drives you, the power of those drives and what you’re most talented in. You can have your other team members take this as well and have discussions around this.

Learn how to coach and develop people towards the passions that they have, whether they want to aspire to a certain job position or grow in their career. It’s a great tool to help with that particular alignment. Abdullah is a TMA expert. As far as talent management, he is a person to go to. It’s great to have him on the webinar. I would love to have him as a speaker. He’s wonderful. I want to give a special thank you to Kimberly. Where can people learn a little bit more about you and your practice?

You could go to my website, which is EscalateSolutions.com. You can also find me on Twitter, @EscalateAdvisor.

Thank you so much for your time. It has been a wonderful discussion.

I learned a lot. Thank you.

Likewise. It was a great, interactive discussion. I appreciate you having me. I’m happy to help you at any time and learn more about you as well. My clients need the services that you provide. It’s great to learn more about what you’re doing. You’re doing great with sharing all this information with your customer base. Thank you.

Thank you so much, Kimberly.

This is wonderful. We all got so much out of it. Thank you for being here, showing up and giving us your energy. Your website and Twitter are the two main places for people to find you.

That’s the easiest way to track me down. I have been sharing this on my various channels and will certainly continue to do so. Everybody, stay safe and healthy. We’ll see you soon.

 

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About Kimberly Arnold

Accomplished digital transformation executive passionate about sparking and empowering change, growth and operational excellence throughout organizations. My current primary engagement is as an advisor/consultant to Seattle-based Waypoint Ventures, working directly with Microsoft Health and Life Sciences (HLS) Cloud + Data team as an external resource (XR / “v-dash”). My role is to provide strategic and tactical support for a multi-phase interoperability and field readiness training program being developed by HLS.

A four-time business owner and experienced advisor/leader/project manager skilled at integrating strategy, operations, data and technology in order to improve client revenue generation, agility, scale, speed, scope, reach, resiliency and continuity. Escalate Solutions, founded in 2014, aims to be a trusted futurist advisor for purpose-led, collaborative initiatives regarding the design/development/launch of go-to-market innovations, products and services.

Recent training/coursework includes: Executive Certificates from Cornell University SC Johnson Graduate School of Management in Data Analytics, Measuring & Improving Business Performance & Strategy, and Financial Management; certifications from IBM in Applying Design Thinking to Artificial Intelligence and as an Enterprise Design Thinking Practitioner; multiple certifications from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business and the Hasso Plattner Institute (Potsdam) in Design Thinking; certification from the University of Colorado in Cybersecurity for Business; and certification from MIT in Digital Transformation.

Escalate Solutions is certified by WBENC as a WBE/WOSB, by City & County of Denver as a WBE/DBE/SBE/EBE/ACDBE, and by the SBA as a WOSB/EDWOSB.

I have been celebrated as an Outstanding Woman in Business (Denver Business Journal), Ambassador of the Year (Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce), Woman of the Year (Leukemia & Lymphoma Society), and Volunteer for the Year (American Heart Association | American Stroke Association). I am a current Advisory Board Member for the Metropolitan State University Department of Management & the Center for Entrepreneurship (College of Business). I am also a registered Notary Public and Certified Signing Agent in the State of Colorado.

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