For the past twenty years, I’ve signed off every internal email with: “One team, One mission”. I am often asked, why did I choose those words? Why do I sign off in that manner?
From my very first official job at the grocery store and every subsequent place after that I’ve had the privilege of working for, I’ve worked with groups of people focused on a core purpose or mission. I’ve worked with people from different backgrounds, different socioeconomic statuses, different demographics, and it is inspiring to see us all come together and unite for a single purpose.
So, now you know a bit more about my story. But you still don’t know why I chose “one team, one mission”. Over the years, I’ve observed that a typical organization may consist of a variety of departments or functions. These departments or functions are crucial to the success of an organization. I’ve noticed that it’s important to avoid silos and to avoid managing individuals by department goals instead of organizational goals. All of our efforts need to focus upwards towards the common mission of the organization.
As a leader, I encourage my managers and directors to look at our organization holistically. Too often, I’ve seen good people get lost in departmental battles. Too often, I’ve seen staff members not understand or recognize the vision of the organization they’re in. Too often, people are too concerned about their individual departments.
This isn’t a knock on business silos! The intention behind them makes sense: silos promote efficiency and effective decision making. It’s important to avoid them creating the opposite effect. Managers within these corporate structures are often focused solely on the goals of their own division, team, or department. Sometimes, managers have a tendency to treat their department as a competition with other departments for dominance, rather than working together for the benefit of the entire organization. This can also come from incentives at the top level. If managers get bonuses solely resulting from their own department and not how it contributes to the whole organization, all management will only focus on their people instead of the overall company. This results in dysfunctional departments out of sync with the overall strategy. There’s usually a lack of connection and communication of goals and this can lead to missed market opportunities, inflated costs and ultimately: a less productive & demotivated staff.
Removing bureaucratic barriers is important in getting an organization back to the right focus. In my opinion, this comes from a combination of technology and training people. With technology, there are many communication channels to clarify overall strategy, organizational initiatives, and clear definitions of what each team and individual is working on. This allows people to work together across the organization, focus on the correct priorities, and keep everyone aware of the organizational needs.
In order for “One team, one mission” to be successful for the organization, it requires an investment in the most important part of any organization: people. The most successful companies develop people into leaders with mindsets going beyond departments and creating silos. They seek and cultivate well-rounded leaders who can adjust their perspective to encompass the entire company, or even the entire industry. To foster this perspective, companies are encouraging their leaders to develop a more comprehensive skill-set crossing departments and viewing the organization as the most important piece in it. With these skills, managers can create stronger internal lines of communication and break down barriers for the good of the company.
Managers and directors can also work to instill collaborative principles across the organization. The most successful companies compel senior managers to work on the following:
Transparency: Ensuring that all employees – regardless of where they fall in the organization – understand the company’s mission. Everyone understands the actual business, why the company exists, and different business initiatives. There needs to be a single common goal for employees across departments to work towards with measurable progress.
Collaboration: Encouraging and involving decision-making across departments to involve as many employees as possible. We shouldn’t manage by departments! True story, I actually heard a department head once say another department head had “no right” to comment on their department. Obviously, that is not a healthy organization.
Authenticity: Sharing information to ensure directors, managers, and employees aren’t operating with drastically different levels of knowledge and understanding. Trust is a foundational need for any relationship – including business relationships.
Engagement: Encouraging discussion and healthy debate between employees. This allows them to express themselves and consider the organization holistically.
At iFrog, we manage beyond departments. Our managers get ongoing leadership training with the expectation they put our client partners first, before their departments. Before we launched our new website, we asked a couple of our technology leaders to jump in and help with our marketing efforts. We employ software showcasing the collective work and roadmap of our organization. Additionally, we actively work on inclusion and collaboration for all of our pirates. I am extremely transparent in all phases of our organization to keep everyone engaged at all times.
I make sure that our directors and managers are constantly aware of creating a healthy organization with no silos. Truly, this work is never completed and must be worked on daily. We still have moments where a particular department might be left out of something, but we are able to course-correct those quickly. Transparency, Collaboration, Trust, and Engagement start with myself and our Directors. We don’t just talk about it, we also walk it. Everything happening within iFrog starts at the C-Suite; we are responsible for everything and we must hold ourselves accountable. Client partners and staff are first. People, not departments, are the critical variable in the equation for us to perform at our best.
We really do live my “one team, one mission” slogan.
You can reach me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Twitter @iFrogCEO – what is a slogan or mantra you live by?
Be a pirate, have a great day and work for the mission! #ifrogmarketing, #ifrogtechnology, #pirates, #PiratesForChange