What Kids do When They’re Not Sitting at the Big Table
Our kid’s table was a wobbly old card table. We sat on a hodgepodge of chairs, stools, and cushions, and as far away from the adults as possible. We fought incessantly, fed our vegetables to the dog, and left a hearty mess for one of the adults to handle later.
I don’t remember the transition from the kid’s table to the big table, but before I ever felt a part of the adult conversation, TV watching became the dinner priority. That was yesterday’s equivalent of today’s electronic device mania, or worse – nobody sitting at the big table to dine together.
Does your company have a big table? Who sits there?
I was reminded of my childhood experiences in a recent conversation with Shawn Busse, founder and CEO of Kinesis, a Portland Marketing company. His profoundly unique take on the marketing process sets a place for marketing at the big table and fosters open, honest communication to a wider range of stakeholders.
Marketing, HR, Operations, and all departments should be aligned with the company’s mission and values.
Busse understands that, like any big family, values and culture form the core of a functional unit. Marketing, HR, operations, or any operation within the organizational family work best when in alignment with the vision, values, and purpose of the company. And, that without this core alignment, you will have employee disengagement.
Kinesis aims to understand who a company is before building marketing programs. They and I have seen many marketing programs doomed to failure because they are designed and operated without regard for the company’s mission or values.
Unfortunately, marketing is only one of many groups that are relegated to the kid’s table in growing businesses.
If you can’t fit everyone at your big table, then get a bigger table.
Many business leaders with whom I speak feel isolated. They make big decisions that impact scores of people. They want to ensure employees are working toward the greater good of the company, so they dream up incentives and rewards for meeting goals, and constantly worry about eliciting the right behavior without acting the tyrant.
They are isolated because they sit alone at the big table and relegate mid-management and the rest of the company to the kid’s table. Kids will be kids, right?
How can we get everyone to the big table?
Ask Shawn Busse. He’s got it figured out for marketing. [Hint: it’s your company culture.]
Your culture consists of your core values, your core focus, and your vision of what you ultimately want to achieve. Your core focus, in turn, consists of your purpose, cause, or passion, and your niche (why you do what you do and for whom you do it). Your core focus is often referred to as your mission.
ANY employee can sit at the big table by understanding and agreeing to act on your values, core focus and your vision.
First, the leadership team must be 100% on board with who you are, where you’re going, and how you’re going to get there. Bringing marketing, HR, operations, or any department to the big table simply means helping them to also align 100% with your values, focus, and vision.
Like the Kung Fu Black Belt, your leadership team, your managers, and every employee moves from your core. Incentives, group and individual metrics, plans and projects all work from your core. And, like the Kung Fu master, your actions are more fluid, faster, and have a stronger, deeper impact.
We all want to be part of something bigger.
People Tweet, use SnapChat, or Facebook because they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Personal rewards – money, pats on the back, and recognition – are important. But, within the context of something bigger (the big table), these personal rewards become more meaningful and your vision becomes more compelling.
So, how about it? Who will you invite to your big table?