Getting Employees Rowing in the Same Direction
by Jim Cardwell and Karla Norwood
It isn’t difficult to hand employees a task. What’s harder is helping them make the connection between their tasks and the larger goals of the organization. Diana Dykstra, CEO of San Francisco Fire Credit Union, found a unique ally in her quest for organizational purpose: an integrated software suite that enables users to manage projects, build teams, share information, and understand strategic goals in an effective, easy to use format.
“Mission statements sit on pretty plaques,” says Diana Dykstra, CEO of San Francisco Fire Credit Union. “Employees don’t understand their role in every critical goal. The same holds for core values; business plans are ignored.”
At the same time, too much focus on the big picture can translate into dropped details. As team members share more responsibilities, individual tasks can fall between the cracks. By deploying “Connections Online” process and software, Dykstra and her staff of 67 have improved both productivity and morale. Here’s how:
Setting goals and objectives. “The program makes us build a business case for each project before it can become a project,” Dykstra explains. “As a result, we’ve had much more active participation and understanding.”
Tracking deliverables. “Each time someone is assigned a deliverable, it’s loaded into Team Connection and Outlook,” says Dykstra. “As a team leader, I can see what’s going on and identify where I can help to get things done.”
Creating priorities and action plans. Connections Online graphically shows critical (yellow) and overdue (red) items in order to flag areas that need immediate attention. “I look at these every day,” says Dykstra, “and everybody dislikes seeing a red light.”
Informing decisions. Because individual assignments and progress are posted as “public” knowledge, managers can supervise more effectively. “It’s easy to see when someone is overloaded—or available,” Dykstra explains. With objective information at hand, “There’s no question about what is being done or where they need to take action. That’s been very freeing for managers.”
Encouraging flexibility. When change is needed—and it often is—Dykstra and her team can go with the flow. “By giving us the information we need, this tool allows us to be more responsive and make those changes.”
Promoting a mission. “We live for purpose and values, Dykstra explains. “Connections Online helps all of us understand where we are going and what our role is. Everyone knows we’re sailing together.” And, with a little help, everyone can learn how to row in the same direction.
About this case study:
Diana Dykstra recently presented this case study in a Callahan webinar, “ Advanced Intranet Strategies: Creating a Culture of Strategic Vision and Performance Awareness.”About Connections Online
Connections Online 3.1 is a fully-integrated software suite that helps leaders achieve targeted outcomes through organization-wide alignment and automation of management processes. Designed for Web deployment and including integration with Microsoft's Project and Office Suite, Connections Online creates a virtual blueprint of an organization, showcasing its goals and strategic plans. It seamlessly aggregates the daily work performed by each employee with the individual desktop tools they use to do their work. It is a fast, easy and affordable solution that builds a culture of performance, teamwork and motivation. Designed with the Cardwell management processes and deployed in over 60 companies, Connections Online is quickly becoming the only mid-size company solution standard for management automation.