Here’s a little tidbit for your Tuesday thinking pleasure.

For this tidbit, let’s pretend that we’re in the banking industry, and consider a generic mid-sized bank.

If you’re the CEO, it’s obvious that the mission of the bank is to act as a trusted financial partner to your clients. This is so important to you, that you’ve made it a part of your corporate mission statement, and reiterate it to your staff during regular updates.

You are confident that your people understand this, and that the day-to-day actions of everybody in the company are being carried out congruently with those beliefs.

If you’re the teller, you may think that your job is to collect money, cash checks, and tell people they can’t transfer between accounts without a fee (or that you can’t validate parking tickets unless the client completes a transaction), because it’s right there in the rulebook!

If you’re a customer of the bank, you may look at it as the place to deposit your salary, and, of course, the company that holds your mortgage, but you wouldn’t dream of using this bank for your investment advice.

Who’s right?

But more importantly, why aren’t they aligned?

Now let’s suppose the CEO and the customer (let’s call him John) were aligned, and both shared a similar vision of what the bank stands for.

What happens when John comes into the bank, and the teller creates an experience based on the rules he’s supposed to follow to the letter, which may end up creating a very different experience than the one that John and the CEO envision?

John’s not going to be happy.

We’ve talked about the expectations gap before – the gap created between overzealous sales & marketing efforts of what the customer is promised they’ll get, and what they actually receive.

But this is equally important.

This is the internal expectations gap. The views of the CEO and leadership aren’t aligned with that of customer-facing staff, and the day-to-day actions of the company are being carried out in ways far different from what senior management believe is happening.

If you don’t think there’s a gap between these three areas in your company today, then one of two things is true:

1. You run the best company on the planet.  Congratulations!

2. You don’t recognize the disconnect, and so will be incapable of taking steps to address it and minimize the impact.

There’s always going to be a gap. The secret is to be continuously looking for ways shrink it, without just rolling over for every squeaky wheel.

Some of the highest value work I do with my clients is to identify these gaps and to create company specific strategies to address it.  The impact here is always profound.

Jack Welch wrote that he spent 30% of his time as the CEO of General Electric conveying the vision to the company and that he wished he could spend more time doing it – he understood the importance of ensuring this alignment at every level.

So, for this week, I leave you with three Key Questions:

1. What business are you in?

2. What business would your front line & customer facing staff say you’re in?

3. What business would your customers say you’re in?

The tighter the alignment between those three areas, the easier it will be for you to continue building your Evergreen business.