Alignment – Key to Execution

Alignment: Key to Execution
Being a leader in a company can sometimes feel like herding cats. You start out confident that everyone understands the strategy and what they need to do, but as the weeks and months go by you realize that everyone seems to be distracted – no one is paying attention to the strategy and they are working in siloes. You soon realize you’re alone on that path and your team is scrambling in every direction but the right one.

A CEO client was dealing with this problem in his own company. The company was growing but it was a struggle to properly execute their plans. Each part of the team was working hard to deliver but as a whole they were falling short and that’s when the finger-pointing started. He felt he was leading the team up the mountain but when he looked back there was no one behind him.

Without proper alignment, your team will not work together to reach its goal. Everyone will make their own path, making it impossible for them all to arrive at your final destination at the same time. While trying to align everyone at your organization might feel like an impossible task, proper planning and execution can make it go smoothly.

Why is alignment so important? It gets your entire team to focus on the priorities, to make the right decisions, and to achieve results. You want each member of your team, from top to bottom, to understand the link between the work that they do and how it impacts the goals and strategy of the entire company.

Without alignment, you will see more inconsistencies in decision making and messaging to customers. Resources will be wasted on projects that do nothing to drive you closer to company goals.

PwC found in a study that “fostering a more powerful collaboration among chiefs of marketing, information, and digital in setting digital business strategy correlates to stronger financial performance.”

To achieve this powerful collaboration, you must have a solid roadmap that everyone is expected to follow. However, according to PwC’s 2015 Global Digital IQ Survey, only 53% of companies surveyed actually implemented a common road map of their business strategy. That means that nearly half of those companies are struggling to stay on course and achieve goals.

Imagine if the military operated on such a low percentage of alignment. Alignment is of vital importance when it comes to military operations. It is the difference between life and death. To maintain this alignment, the leaders rely on effective communication to ensure that each member of the team knows the mission and the part they must play to make it succeed.

Communication is the most powerful tool in the alignment process and it starts from the top. The leaders need to deeply understand the strategy and key initiatives that will drive success. They need to understand exactly what needs to happen and they need to clearly communicate that information to their team. To gain commitment and ownership at every level, each individual in your company should be able to tell you what the company’s strategy is as well as the key priorities to meet their goals.

So, what are the goals of the strategy alignment process and how do you achieve them?

The goals of alignment are:

  • Common understanding your roadmap: everyone knows where you are going and how you will get there.
  • Motivated people: everyone is excited about what their company is doing and proud to be a part of it.
  • Accountability and ownership: everyone sees how they contribute to the strategy and how their roles, goals, and actions are going to drive the company toward success.

Here are five tips for gaining and maintaining strategic alignment within your company:

  1. Start at the top: First, make sure that your leadership team is on board and aligned. Bring everyone together to discuss the strategy and roadmap. Discuss the requirements for success and agree on the gives and gets – how each member contributes to the success of the whole.
  2. Don’t just cascade metrics and goals: Clearly communicate what the opportunities, strategies and key initiatives are that will get your company to its goals. This brings goals into perspective and builds a framework for how decisions get made.
  3. Engage your middle managers: These members of your team play an important role in communicating to teams and individuals throughout the company. They need to understand the strategy and priorities to prioritize their work and help the people on the front line align their individual goals to the goals of the company. Encourage them to have face-to-face communication with their team to spark their sense of ownership of the strategy. Provide resources to help these managers communicate a consistent, meaningful message. You don’t want your managers playing ‘Telephone’ with your strategy communications.
  4. Communicate to employees directly: Leaders needs to be visible. Engage with employees through formal and informal channels to ensure that people understand the strategy and priorities. Host strategy sharing sessions to reinforce the message. Encourage employees to ask questions and share ideas and feedback.
  5. Keep it alive: Keep the message alive by keeping communication open. Reinforce the message throughout the year. Be transparent about progress with regular updates and feedback. Recognize and celebrate contributions and milestones along the way. 

Strategic alignment is not a one-time exercise.  Your investment in maintaining alignment will be key to your execution and success.

How well aligned is your company?

You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.

—Alvin Toffler


Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: