What comes to your mind when you hear that a company has been awarded as “Employer of the Year”?  Do you think to yourself that the company has great benefits and perks?  Or that the management of the company is “warm and fuzzy”?  I have to admit that this is how I used to think until the company I was managing (Avon Cosmetics Inc.) decided to participate in the Asian Wall Street Journal & Hewitt and Associates search for Employer of the Year.

I also have to admit that I was quite nervous when I was given a questionnaire to answer.  This questionnaire asked not only about the quality of life of the company, but also included questions about the vision and mission of the company, strategies, execution and business results.

As the head of the company, I was asked to answer a questionnaire.  200 other associates were also asked to answer the same questionnaire, from all levels of the company.  Then the board of judges would see how aligned the organization was, from top to bottom.
This was to be a moment of truth for me.  Avon Cosmetics had approximately 1,000 employees in multiple locations around the Philippines.  Was I just talking to myself, when I would hold meetings, send out emails, or write in the employee newsletter?  Were my associates listening?  Did they understand what I was saying?

Well, I’m happy to say, Avon Cosmetics came in 3rd in that search.  The ironic part is that we failed miserably in “quality of life”!  Employees felt that they were worked to the bone and had little time for family and leisure BUT they were extremely proud to be a part of Avon.  Most importantly, they understood where the company wanted to go, how we intended to get there and how we were performing against expectations.

This was a light bulb moment for me.  Motivated employees were the result of good business management.  And the foundation of good business management was organizational alignment. 

We align our tires to ensure they travel in the same direction.  We feel out of whack when we have a stiff neck and go to a health practitioner to align our bodies in order to function better. 

In order for a company to achieve its goals with motivated employees, the organization needs to be aligned.  Aligned objectives. Aligned resources. Aligned leadership.

Key to organizational alignment is clarity.  Clarity of goals and objectives.  Clarity of expectations.  If it’s not clear to the head of the organization what they want to achieve, it will rarely be clear to others.  An organization without clear goals brings visions to my mind of a headless chicken staggering about.  Who wants to work in a company that functions like a headless chicken? Also important is that the organization is clear about departmental and personal roles, and the consequences of achievement or non-achievement of goals. Clear expectations. Clear ground rules.

Aligned resources.  Nothing is more frustrating to an employee than to be given a job to do without adequate resources.  Or seeing that resources are focussed on non-aligned goals and pet projects.  Systems need to enable the achievement of goals.  Training and development need to be aligned to goals, manpower needs to be aligned to goals. Incentives, recognition and remuneration need to be aligned with goals and objectives.

Aligned leadership.  Personal leadership, overall leadership and frontline leadership all need to be aligned with goals and objectives.  Leadership in an organization is shaped by the head of an organization.  As a leader, you need to ensure that overall leadership and frontline leadership understand how they fit in the big picture and that the levels of authority are clear.

Motivating your employees is hard work.  But by aligning your organization, you will achieve the results you desire, hopefully with more money in your pocket.
 
 
Malu Dy Buncio is the Chief Business Development Strategist of Mansmith and Fielders, Inc., (www.mansmith.net), the leading marketing and sales training company in the Philippines. She was the former country head of Avon Philippines and Avon Indonesia. For inquiries, please call (63-2) 584-5858/412-0034, text 0918-81-168-88 or email info@mansmith.net. Please send your marketing, sales and strategy questions to mentors@mansmith.net.