Why Buy-In and Alignment is Missing
Towards the end of the year, the company held a planning retreat. All managers were told
by the owner to arrive at a local hotel by 8am.
When the session started, she announced the purpose of the meeting: to set company goals
for the next year. The day kicked off with the projected results from the current year being
The owner did not provide specifics when it came to the financial results. Instead, she used
percentages. “Sales were up three percent” and profits “dropped by five percent” due
to “an increase in expenses.” No one except the owner and the finance manager had any
point of reference beyond that.
“We must work harder,” she told everyone. “We simply cannot have another year like this
one.” The managers wondered what she was talking about, because they believed they
were all working pretty hard.
The rest of the day was spent setting three major goals for the company. The managers
were to meet individually with the owner the next day to set department goals.
The owner arrived late to work the next morning, missing her scheduled meeting with the
sales manager. During the second meeting a major client called, leaving the production
manager waiting for the majority of his scheduled time. The finance manager said that
none of the company goals affected him. The owner agreed, but they spent two hours
reviewing expenses. The day went by quickly, none of the managers really getting the
needed attention of the owner.
At the beginning of the second month of the year, she reviewed the numbers and they were
nowhere close to the monthly goals. Sales were down, expenses up and profits slim.
The owner wondered why she put up with such lousy performance! At the next
staff meeting, her anger was barely in check. Again, she did not share numbers, only
percentages. Leaving the meeting, the managers wondered what had caused their normally
good tempered boss to be so unlike herself.
None of the managers wanted to sit through another staff meeting like the one they just
endured, so they all vowed to work harder. By the end of the second month, the boss was
angry, disappointed, frustrated and ready to terminate someone.
Does your company have this problem? Is something not working when it comes to goal
development, creation of action plans and execution towards objectives? Retreats can be
great, but the process needs to be amended for stronger results.
The owner should have predetermined the three goals for the company, allowing input
from the management team to clarify and for her to gain buy-in.
The rest of the retreat should have been spent working collaboratively as a team, each
manager determining what resources were needed for goal achievement. Together the
managers and owner should have prepared an action list and timetable for each goal and
then used the monthly staff meetings to measure progress and take corrective action as
Being vague about sales, expenses, cash flow and profits eliminates all responsibility and
buy-in by managers.
The fastest way to insure misalignment and grow disengagement is not sharing key metrics
tied to goals.
If the biggest responsibility an owner has is the financial health of the company, wouldn’t it
make sense to share the information to gain agreement and alignment to achieve financial
Yet, there are many companies with owners who refuse to share the information needed by
managers and employees to help them build revenue, control expenses and grow profits.
The managers have one tool to use, hard work. Yet hard work alone won’t achieve company
goals. The owner in this example has all the other tools locked away and has no intention of
Is there any wonder why this company underperforms and isn’t achieving its goals?
How does your company compare?