Can you articulate your company vision and strategy in a one-page document? ING DIRECT’s Mark Woolnough, suggests that the answer to this question should be ‘yes’.
In Woolnough’s world, the company vision is underpinned by values that every staff member can not only relate to, but can also explain in terms of how those values align with their role and how they go about performing it.
“The other aspect of culture which is very important, regardless of size, is that you have very clear parameters, ground rules,” he adds. “Yet within those you give people the opportunity to take ownership. You find tasks where, directly and indirectly, they’re empowered to make decisions and shape outcomes. And you check in along the way.”
Setting the values, culture and ground rules, however, is just the start. Woolnough explains that it’s up to you as the leader to manage to that culture and make sure that it’s infectious. The company vision and purpose need to be aligned, but also resonate with each and every team member.
“It’s really important that you can support your staff but, more importantly, that they can articulate where they believe what they do and how they go about doing things – the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ – actually relate to the success of the organisation,” he says.
In other words, everyone should know how and why their job contributes to the company. To that end, Woolnough explains that, at ING DIRECT, every business unit, and therefore every management team and individual, has a ‘plan on a page’. And he believes that this is a strategy brokers can adopt successfully.
It’s no use, for example, spending ages working on an enormous strategy document for your brokerage if it just gets filed away never to be seen again. Woolnough suggests distilling your vision into a plan on a page, that’s underpinned by your own company values.
“It’s there, it’s a visual, it’s in front of people, it’s a daily reminder that motivates and drives performance and direction,” he says. “If you’re a one-man broker or if you’re a broker with 50 people in their office, I absolutely encourage them to have a plan, but absolutely insist that that plan be simple and straightforward and easy to articulate to a customer, a business partner or a staff member”.
For more advice from Woolnough and numerous other industry experts, pick up a copy of MPA's Business Strategy supplement – on desks in late June.