Team Alignment Is Easy, Right?

Your CEO or owner holds an annual Town Hall meeting at the beginning of the fiscal year. Last year’s results are shared, this year’s goals are stated, business strategies are enumerated. Everyone attends, everybody applauds, lots of nodding heads, all good—right?

With most companies now allowing employees to work from home several days a week, and a flexible work schedule for most folks, it is much harder today to be confident that you, in fact, have an aligned and motivated team.

Does alignment really matter?

Absolutely! It is not enough for the big boss to make his or her annual speech and call it done. It takes a bunch of people, across all functional areas, and at all levels of the organization. Done well, the benefits are many. Goals are accomplished on time and on budget. Employees are more productive, getting more done with less waste. Employees feel valued and are motivated by being a part of something bigger—which leads to lower turnover and recruiting or training expenses. There tends to be less conflict and fewer turf wars that lead to turmoil, if left unchecked. Communication is better, which leads to better decision making since feedback is sought and corrective actions are made.

How to get it?

Success lies in education, conversation, and rigorous dialog about how work is connected and interdependent.

Articulating the mission, vision, and key strategies for your company is the responsibility of the executive leadership team. They must have those tough debates about goals, resources, and milestones hammered out. The CEO takes the lead, and then every department and functional leader must translate those strategies and goals into how it applies to their teams.

And then strategies must be tied to individual contributions to business objectives. This key step requires constant attention to stay on track throughout the year, with monthly reporting on progress to goals. Many companies rely on an Objectives and Key Results (OKR) tracking model that specifies what must be done by when and by whom. Ideally, this process is done collaboratively as many goals are shared across departments. Clarifying roles and responsibilities at a granular level avoids duplication of effort while showing all the important intersections. Thus, everyone knows what success looks like.

Keep the OKR process and reporting collaborative, as opposed to competitive, to encourage trust and openness. In fact, reward teamwork and celebrate wins to reinforce company values and culture principles. The more cross-team and cross-functional recognition, the better, to show how everyone’s contribution makes a difference to achieve important goals.

A critical component is bottom-up business planning to make sure execution details are fully considered and nothing is missed. This also leads to better engagement from front line workers, since their voice has been heard and included.

Then get feedback from employees regarding their views on company and team alignment. Do they feel that their work matters and is consistent with the company strategies and goals? Do they have sufficient resources to get the job done? Do they feel supported by their boss? Do they see collaboration in action? These annual surveys are often revealing and identify opportunities to address pain points, whether process or people driven.

It is worth the time and effort, as alignment is a “must do.” A big “watch out” is when you discover that a leader in the organization does not fully cooperate. Sometimes, even in smaller companies, those leaders can create disruption by blocking or refusing to collaborate with others. In these cases, the leader who is not on board must be dealt with—and quickly to not risk the achievement of goals. Coaching from a top executive may be sufficient to remedy the problem. But if not, it may require more drastic action—up to and including termination.

Want some help?

Many consulting firms specialize in team alignment and business planning. Some have games or other tools to build trust and break down walls.

At Forge, our focus is to help clients get to the next level as a key member of your extended team. We are here to be your partner, your trusted advisor, your devil’s advocate. We are skilled at asking the tough questions and getting everyone on the same page. How do we best get you and your team onto the best path—one that has the greatest potential to get results?

Importantly, we are pragmatic, focused, nimble, smart, and energetic. We get assignments done well, and quickly.

Take the first step to a more successful business today.

1.    Hit “LET’S TALK” to schedule a free 30-minute discussion. No pressure – we promise.
2.    We’ll provide real-world case studies showing the process in action.
3.    If we’re a fit, we finalize the details and get started!

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