Cultivating Workplace Culture: Intentional Focus, Put First Things First

Intentional focus involves focus on the task at hand. But, and a strong but, the focus needs to be in alignment with the over arching mission. How do we ensure this happens?

Filter Decisions Through Your Strategic Vision

Intentional focus means you will say no a lot if your team doesn’t understand your company’s vision. By this I mean, a complete understanding of your mission, core values, strategy and metrics. Furthermore, the most successful and healthy teams can recite these things if you give them a framework to deliver the message. Each team member should be able to sit down with a key stakeholder and explain tour strategic vision on a dinner napkin.

Use An Object To Explain Your Vision

Above all, make your vision understandable. In my last position as President and COO we used a picture frame. I learned this trick from Will Mancini. Think of your vision. The vision should be a picture. Vision implies something you can see. Perhaps a satisfied customer doing something with the service or product you sell. Describe your vision with words. Next, think of the picture frame as a support for the vision. The four sides would include core values (why), mission (what), strategy (how) and metrics (when). This would be the framework for you strategic vision. Intentional focus begins with alignment behind the vision.

Intentional Focus Leads To Stronger Employee Engagement

Employee engagement has been a buzz phrase for several years now. To gain engagement means your team must be with you. They need to know the strategic vision and be 100% behind it. Not 99%. 100%! Consequently, this begins with the why or your core values. The best way to ensure team members support your core values is to hire to them. How do you know if a potential team member is aligned with your core values? Ask them. But ask them two questions:

  1. Tell me about your heroes or someone you most want to be like and why. Probe this question to understand their make up
  2. What things do you find detestable, shameful, corrupt or unethical? Next, look for the antonyms that describe their answers

Intentional Focus Means First Things First

Covey said the first three habits of highly successful people were; be proactive, begin with the end in mind and put first things first. As a result, pour your foundation first if you’re building a house. Your tasks must lead you to the end in mind or your strategic vision. Similarly, don’t have your plumbing, wiring, roof shingles, etc on site before the foundation is set.

Consequently, know what must be done first. Use a project management tool. Better yet, sit down with your team and establish your milestones and set some goals around them. If someone brings you an idea that doesn’t fit your vision, say no, at least for now. Be focused on the task at hand.

Next up in this series is a discussion on High Sense Of Urgency.