Alignment – a term used to describe the synchronisation of the work, structure, metrics, people, reward, culture and leadership to a clear defined strategy. A topic which follows on nicely from last week’s discussion on Silos and the tell tale signs of a Silo culture which breaks down alignment. So now we are rowing in the same direction, where are we going?
Linking organisational goals requires a common understanding of purpose so that all players understand how to get there and what objectives need to be achieved. They need to follow the same road, they need to be aligned.
We often describe this as Vectorship. In any team, it’s important to get the vectors aligned. A vector is a force that pulls in any direction, it is based on our thoughts, beliefs and desires and if any one vector is pulling the wrong way, an adverse effect can be created.
Trying to align or realign organisations can be time consuming and politically charged, yet rewarding and exhilarating at the same time. What I have learned through working with companies to help their teams function better is that the battlefield a Language Service Provider may face isn’t much different to the battlefield a Technology Company or Banking institution may face. They all need to clarify priorities. They all need a clear strategy and it all starts with the alignment of not just one but all of their teams so they are operating at an elite level. Cross functionality and communication is a must also.
Here are some of the benefits of alignment:
Increased business performance – research shows that companies with aligned marketing and sales teams experience on average 20% growth in annual revenue. One other survey shows that aligned companies are 38% better at closing proposals and churn 36% fewer customers each year.
Increased customer satisfaction – customers and external stakeholders want consistent achievement of expectations and deliverables. Alignment creates mechanisms that ensure processes consistently deliver what is expected. In this way, the sales team can comfortably sell a seamless product/service safe in the knowledge that internally their operations team can deliver and can do so every time. Furthermore, the sales team can then get back to the job in hand – selling and driving growth!
Greater resource visibility – such a big one! Resources are often hidden in organisations that are not aligned for fear that headcount will be frozen and shortages of staff will arise. Department managers often resort to a less transparent means of working in terms of their resource management strategy because they are never quite sure what may land next and who they will need to deploy if a Murphy’s Law situation were to arise. Alignment creates transparency because every function delivers to a common strategy and there is less need to sandbag resources and headcount. The organisation knows what resources exist and can redeploy duplicate resources as necessary thus optimising company performance and productivity.
Ease of decision making – indecision can cripple productivity and cause missed deadlines. An organisation that is aligned can provide greater clarity around who holds the decision rights for each work activity and in turn creates reduced time to execution. When important projects land, everyone is clear on what to do, who to involve and how the deployment should happen.
Optimised talents and skills – when employees know which road to take, roles are defined and other organising choices are aligned to strategy, it is easier to see what talent is needed, where talent is needed and what talent already exists within the company. Cross functionality comes to play and the result is higher satisfaction and improved productivity.
Here are some useful tips to execute your alignment strategy based on your people.
Align the right person to the right role – the root cause of hours of pain and lost productivity in our experience. Ask your people what motivates them, why they’re doing what they are doing and what their personal goals are. Set the conditions for candour now to prevent the loss of talent later (Forbes).
Align the roles with a team – ensure that everyone has a defined role and an understanding of their role within a team or a specific project. Alignment is created out of accountability and shared accountability of a specific action. If this is clear from the get go then it is easily measured and avoids any uncomfortable situations that may play out as a result of a ‘that’s not my job’ attitude.
Create cross functionality – we keep coming back to this but this is one of the first things we assess when supporting customers through change towards their alignment strategy. How agile is their structure and how cross functional are their teams? Eliminate silos and work together. It doesn’t matter how great your sales team are if your marketing team are failing to get the message out.
Lewis Carroll famously said If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there. Alignment is created by a clear direction of where you are going and how your team can get there.
If you would like to hear more about how we are helping organisations create alignment please visit our website at www.mindsetassociates.com or contact Stuart, Haydn or Suzy at firstname.lastname@example.org