The term "getting everyone on the same page" is bantered around quite a bit these days. But what does it really mean, and how can a company use the concept to unite and focus employees?
The commonly understood meaning of getting everyone on the same page is making sure that everyone involved in a specific task or project has a full understanding of what they personally need to do. Usually, this involves assignments given out at group meetings or by managers speaking individually with employees.
When projects are carried out by a small number of people, verbal instructions may be enough to get everyone on the same page. Even so, managers should carefully plan the initial instructions for these individuals to make sure that every detail is nailed down. Keeping everyone on the same page throughout the duration of a project can be assured only by establishing intra-project benchmarks and intermediary goals and having ongoing meetings between managers and team members.
For larger projects or when addressing goals of the entire company, detailed written assignments defining each employee's responsibility are key. Too many small companies float along led not by an inner compass but by exterior events. To avoid this, managers need to structure employee activities to conform to the company's business plan (and the financial projections therein). Every activity should have a purpose and contribute to overall company goals.
One of the prime attributes of a successful manager is the ability to get everyone on the same page in regards to the overall "vision" a company has of its future. This task is more abstract than the nuts-and-bolts, day-to-day aspects of a company's operations previously discussed.
The ultimate vision a company has of itself may occupy no more than a paragraph in its business plan or annual report. However, this vision is the underlying structure that helps create what is often termed the unique "corporate culture" of a business. It is the glue that holds everything together.
To create this glue--to get everyone on the same page in terms of what the company is and where it is going--the vision must be put into words. The goal of a company certainly is to maintain profitability, but that is not a vision. What a company really does is provide a service to individuals and the community. No company can exist and grow over the decades without becoming an integral part of its customers' lives. How this is done, and what the company means to customers, is the company's vision. Defining this may sound simple--but volumes have been written on the subject.
What has not often been written is how this vision can be shared by all employees in a company. Fortunately, the solution is not overly difficult. Sharing a company's vision and thereby getting everyone on the same page can result only by establishing the understanding that every employee is ultimately responsible for the overall success of the company. Each employee must be led to an understanding that everything he or she does is vital not only for his or her own job security but also for the company and its customers.
There are numerous ways to instill this understanding: employee recognition programs, commitment to promoting from within, instructing managers to emphasize this point during employee reviews and group meetings, etc.
Getting everyone of the same page in this sense is an ongoing process that can make a tremendous difference to a company over time. It can keep a company on track through all the ups and downs of business.