An overview of building organizational alignment
Organizations that lead the market align everyone towards their desired direction.
Identifying your destination and developing your strategic plan to reach it is the easy part of strategy. Executing that plan is the hard part. Only when you achieve company-wide organizational alignment can you successfully do it.
In this article, we’ll discuss the following topics:
- What is organizational alignment
- How to align personal goals with organizational goals
- How to measure organizational alignment
- What are the best organizational alignment tools
What is organizational alignment
Organizational alignment occurs when your employees’ activities progress your strategic objectives and they use them to inform their decisions.
Simply put, it’s when your company’s strategy and your people’s actions talk to each other effectively. When they become friends, evolve their communication processes and get to actually know each other.
How to align personal goals with organizational goals
This is what you eventually want to achieve.
In a perfect world, every person understands the company’s strategy. Develops their own individual goals. Aligns them with the strategic priorities. And all that with little effort from the leadership teams.
But this isn’t a perfect world.
Aligning individual goals with organizational goals takes a lot of energy and time. It’s messy and It involves several steps. The secret is constant communication with ever-evolving guidelines and fast-moving feedback. Here’s what you need to do:
Expose your strategy
Presenting your strategy is a hopeless mistake.
Nobody will remember a thing.
It’ll be business as usual in a week.
Instead, expose your strategy. Give your people unrestricted access to it and let them read it, understand it and challenge it. Slides might be great (not really), but they’re like a fun trip to the beach. They do nothing to change people’s day to day behavior in the office.
Push authority down
This requires extreme clarity on your communicational practices.
People in the trenches have valuable information concerning the customer’s needs and need to make decisions fast. If you give them the authority, make the priorities clear and point towards the desired direction.
Strategy is all about choices. Give your people the power to make choices and the information to make the right ones.
The secret is to communicate your strategy, your intentions and your plans constantly. Reach the point where you feel you overcommunicated. Then go past it and then some more.
Hint: You can’t overcommunicate.
Develop organizational culture alignment
Your culture must align with your strategy.
Strategic initiatives and moves that oppose your culture are doomed to fail. You need to perform a cultural transformation first if you want to implement a strategy that doesn’t agree with your company’s current values and structure.
High performing organizations take their time to transform their cultures and develop transparency and accountability.
How to measure organizational alignment
This is a real challenge. Below we mention three tactics that can get the job done, but we recommend you use a combination of them.
One way to measure organizational alignment is to review your progress towards your strategic objectives in the last quarter. However, that is a lagging indicator. A view of the past.
A view at your organizational alignment before your last quarter. It does little to educate you on the current state of your company’s alignment.
Another way to measure the alignment of your people with your organizational goals is to ask them. Create an organizational alignment survey. It’s the simplest way, though not the easiest.
Your people have to understand your company’s strategic plan before they align with it. So, if you want to measure how much they understand it, ask them what the company’s strategic priorities are.
The third way is to use a strategy execution platform, like Cascade, that empowers your people to engage with your plan and align their team goals with the organizational goals.
What are the best organizational alignment tools?
There are two kinds of organizational alignment tools: the traditional and the effective.
Sheets and slides.
We hate them, you hate them, your people hate them. Yet you still use them. In fact, they shouldn’t have a place in your strategic processes. At least, not a major one. Here’s what’s wrong with those static tools:
They are always lagging. By the time you update them, the information is outdated and hurting your reporting habits. Finding the correct version of the documents, coordinating through emails and the simple act of inserting the right information in them take away precious time from the most valuable people in your organization.
They force a trade-off. You have to choose between clarity and accuracy. You can either make the strategic initiatives, their KPIs and projects clear or you can align them. Aligning projects with the organizational strategy while maintaining readability is not possible with sheets and slides.
Dynamic digital platforms.
It’s time we brought the strategic processes from their obsolete form to a modern state. Smart sheets, business intelligence software and project management platforms have indeed incrementally improved some processes. However, they brought new challenges as well.
The truth is, strategy needs one source of truth.
An exponential improvement that offers to the executive team an easy overview of the strategic plan’s current state, like strategy maps. One that enables you to insert your plan without sacrificing its structure and complexity.
Cascade provides that exponential improvement to your strategic processes and aligns everyone around your organization’s vision. Start your free trial of Cascade and see for yourself.