Have you ever used a dirty bathroom in a gas station?
If so, you most likely recall faucets that don’t work, filthy floors and overflowing wastebaskets.
Would you ever go back to that station if there was an alternative? Would you go to a different chain of gas stations based on that one experience?
Most people would choose a different one. For example, there’s a popular chain of gas stations/convenience stores/truck stops in Texas called Buc-ee’s, known for clean restrooms.
Everyone I spoke to who had been there gave glowing testimonials about the shopping, the food, and, most importantly, the restrooms.
Customers have been described as “cult-like” because they’re committed patrons. One billboard in Texas says, “It’s only 262 miles to Buc-ee’s – You can hold it.” Others say, “Restrooms so clean we leave mints in the urinals” and “Our aim is to have clean restrooms – Your aim will help.”
That type of humorous advertising appeals to customers directly and states clearly what makes Buc-ee’s unique.
In the Midwest, we have Kwik Trip, a similar chain of gas stations that sell excellent food and offer clean restrooms. When I travel throughout the Midwest, it’s the only station I use.
The cost of gasoline is irrelevant. The experience is why I go.
Alignment means success
These two chains are perfect examples of alignment, which results when all employees are working to achieve the same objective efficiently.
The janitorial crews at a Kwik Trip or Buc-ee’s keep the restrooms clean so customers return and, like me, keep spending money for gasoline and food.
The janitors create enduring customer loyalty and drive revenue. The moment the restrooms become unacceptable, the chain loses business.
Alignment also means everyone in an organization must understand how their job fulfills the mission, the strategic objectives and the desired profitability.
Hire the right employees
The process of teaching employees this attitude begins with the job interview. Just as job descriptions typically illustrate the responsibilities of specific jobs, I recommend that each job posting also explain how the job supports your company’s mission, strategic objectives and profitability.
By emphasizing and driving the significant relationship between the employee’s position and company goals, you’ll encourage alignment and your company’s success.
For another example of alignment, consider the game tug-of-war. Can you remember the last time you participated in it? Each person must pull in unison with each other, and in a straight line. Small deviations in alignment will reduce pulling power and could hinder other team members.
Effort, consistency and perseverance result in success.
The tug-of-war team members can represent cultural issues, policies and procedures, good and bad employees, bureaucracy, etc. When employees pull against one another, have different priorities, or are hampered by policies and procedures, they aren’t pulling together.
Chaos can occur from too much bureaucracy, inappropriate team members, or restrictive policies and procedures. Any of those will constrain the effectiveness of the tug-of-war and the business team. It will result in the team pulling in multiple, conflicting directions, which will result in a failed project.
Add a team leader
Consider adding a team leader to help create alignment.
Leaders can look down the tug-of-war rope and identify employees who are out of line, or business practices that hamper the team. The leader can coach team members to pull in harmony, and remove restrictive or bureaucratic rules and regulations.
Each improvement brings team members closer to alignment with the other participants. When the team members pull together, they will have a uniform motion and be more successful.
Leaders must ensure your business is aligned appropriately so that the vision, mission, values, and strategic and operational goals are in sync.
Employee compensation must reinforce alignment. Emphasize activities that will help meet the goals and objectives of your business.
Identify your customers’ needs, like consistently clean bathroom facilities. Then align your employees’ jobs to exceed customers’ expectations.
Aligned organizations will achieve their goals and objectives more frequently. The result? Greater profitability.