I think one of the most challenging aspects of any organization is the issue of aligning a lot of individuals, each of whom have different motivations and goals, to accomplish a corporate goal. Much of what you read in the literature and online is focused on "personal" productivity - that is, how do I as an individual become more productive and efficient with my effort to achieve my goals. Well, that's a fine goal, except that very few of us work in isolation or a vacuum. Most people work and deliver value in teams within larger organizations, and the outcomes and products and services rely on all of those individuals having the same ultimate goals. While I may be very efficient in my work, if I am only one cog in a larger machine and that machine in inefficient, then the individuals downstream from me simply become a bottleneck. What is necessary to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of teams and organizations? Excellent communication, clearly defined goals and outcomes and compensation/reward programs that encourage everyone to pull in the same direction.
Probably the most important function that management can provide to us as individuals, who are eventually collected into teams or people who support processes or business functions is to set one or two clear strategic goals. Is our goal to be the most efficient firm in the industry, or the innovation leader, or to differentiate because we offer the best customer service? Does your team know what the overall goals of the organization are and how those goals impact your organization, focus and direction? How does your team's compensation and recognition align to those corporate goals, if at all? Do you know and more importantly understand what the strategic goals of your organization are?
If your organization has clear goals, are your processes and teams aligned in such a way that you can work to achieve those goals, or do you work at cross purposes? Is your compensation and the way you are evaluated aligned to key corporate goals, or are you evaluated on tactical, efficiency and process oriented measures?
What's frustrating in many organizations is that the management team will state a number of key strategic goals, but continues to work with the same processes and tactical plans that are left over from days or years gone by. Eventually, the disconnect between what the management team talks about and what the execution teams actually do is so great that they almost seem to belong to two different companies. Then, when teams are very efficient and effective "locally" but don't accomplish the strategic goals, everyone believes they've done great work - except the customers and the market.
What we need more than ever are senior executives with the ability to establish a vision, and the ability to encourage the organization to adopt and fulfill that vision through changes in processes, team work, communication and rewards structures.