By: Missy Jackson, Managing Partner

Asking questions should be a daily practice of any leader within an organization. Learning the art of asking the right questions to better understand your business is critical and takes a conscious effort. It isn’t just tactical questions that need to be asked in your daily routine.

To uncover the level of health and sustainability within organization, you need to ask questions about the five most crucial business priorities any organization should have: purpose, people, pace, perception and profit.

Purpose: Is it clear what your company’s vision and values are? When you have synergy between your company’s purpose and its employees’ purpose, you create an environment that is energized and productivity excels. Can you and others articulate your unique value proposition? Would your key stakeholders agree that you deliver on your vision and values?  How well do you think your people relate with and believe in your vision and values? Do you know the difference between why you exist versus what you make? If you’re struggling to answer some of these questions, or the answers to the questions are not what you would like them to be, purpose may be misaligned leaving you, your people and business faltering and lacking focus.

People: Relational capital is the new currency, yet it is an old currency.  People are and have always been a vital part of business success.  Do you have a team full of the right people?  What is the culture within your company? The cost of the status quo is much pricier than you may think.  What is the level of trust that you find within your organization?  Do your people feel valued and challenged?  Do you have a team of managers or leaders that empower people to do their best work?  How often do you assume you know what your people are thinking and feeling versus taking the time to actually understand?  Do you appreciate and celebrate emotional intelligence as much as IQ within your company? If people are a misaligned priority, you are facing a workforce that is misaligned to the company’s top priorities.

Pace: The balance between development and delivery helps determine the beat of your company. Are you moving at a frantic pace that leads to burnout or are you moving so slow that disengagement is an issue?  Do you have time for focusing on strategic and big picture issues?  Are you or your people working at maximum capacity frequently?  What is the energy within your business?  How are you keeping a pulse on the capacity of your organization? When pace is a misaligned priority the organization can become unsustainable.

Perception: Does your organization have a mindset that is open or closed to innovation and new ideas? What is the balance of your time spent on the business versus in the business?  How do you ensure that there is time and space for innovation within your business?  Do you have the right people or processes in place to think of new ideas and execute on them for delivery? Are you consistently looking for creative ways to improve yet struggling to answer some of these questions to drive new ideas? If you are finding answers to the questions are illusive, perception may be a misaligned priority within your organization and your business may be struggling to pivot or respond to customer needs because of it.

Profit: You are what you measure. Are you placing profits in front of your vision and values?  How well do you and your team understand the financial health of the business? Do your people understand how they can and do impact your financial outlook? What performance indicators are you tracking regularly? Does Enron sound familiar? Anytime an organization places profits first it can be in for a stark surprise since that model is not sustainable, nor inspiring.

If you were digging a tunnel in the wrong direction, how soon would you want to know? What would it be like if all of your employees treated the business like an owner versus a renter?  Where have you placed unintentional focus in your business? Healthy and productive relationships lead to trust, yet, they don’t happen without listening, respecting and valuing what your people bring to the table.  Do you want to be the type of leader that sets your organization up for long term health and longevity?  Do you want to lead with a people-centric focus in all parts of your business?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, rest assured, the Vantage Group can help.