As anyone who has worked on a team will tell you, team alignment is important. The problem is, if your team isn’t on the same page about the vision for the company, it becomes incredibly difficult to achieve.
So, if you want to work toward better team alignment? Then you need to begin by getting very clear about what that vision is in the first place.
Most entrepreneurs understand on some level that they need to have a clear and succinct vision for their company by asking:
- Who are we?
- What do we offer?
- Who are our customers?
- What is our mission?
A business is largely defined by its vision, and its success will go together with the power of the vision and its place in the market.
Once you have a clearly defined vision for your company, the real work starts. Now you need to work hard each day to communicate your vision to your employees and ensure that you have a company-wide team alignment of goals and strategy.
A corporate vision should invoke an image of business aspirations, and this image should be clear to the employees and leadership alike. The vision should not ramble and be as short but descriptive as possible.
Your Vision Becomes Lost in the Daily Noise
Once you have defined your vision and created an accompanying strategy, you now need to involve every employee in your company and ensure they can see the big picture and understand their smaller role within it.
Creating a relevant strategy that supports the vision should take time and not be rushed. There are too many variables to consider, and it is important to learn from existing stakeholders what has gone well and what needs to change. It is highly recommended an external consultant with well-known expertise in strategic planning be considered to manage this process.
From your management team to your new hires, everyone’s daily decisions and actions need to align with your vision and strategy. Unfortunately, this process does not happen naturally and represents one of the biggest hurdles to creating a successful company. The vision cannot be left to chance and must not end up just a sign on the wall.
Challenges to Team Alignment
Misalignment can happen for several different reasons:
- Your message will change and lose coherence as it passes from the top of your organization down to the bottom through the layers of management.
- Employees find it difficult to see their stake in the company’s vision. This is particularly true when management fails to offer meaningful rewards and recognition for desired behaviour.
- Employees cannot identify on their own how their small role fits into the big picture of your company’s vision.
- Managers fail to translate the company’s executive-level strategy into smaller and simpler elements that can be understood by different individual employees, teams, and divisions.
How to avoid these potential misalignments? Time and energy must be taken by all levels of leadership to properly communicate the vision. This also means involving as many managers and employees as possible. Then, scheduling a regular “town hall” meeting to recognize progress and reiterate the success of the vision.
How to Keep Your Vision Clear and Your Business Aligned
Even with the clearest of visions and the highest quality executive-level strategy, many companies fail to align the rest of their company successfully. That is where culture comes into play. Culture must involve a strong commitment to communication, candour, and teamwork.
Many companies fail to understand that they first need to ensure a strong culture of teamwork and team engagement. AKA: one that ensures each employee’s understanding of and commitment to your company’s overall vision and strategy.
Employees aren’t usually willing to “do what we say.” Instead, they want to be involved. And they want recognition along with having their opinions heard.
Be sure to read this post with three critical elements for promoting team alignment!
Promoting Team Alignment
Fortunately, there are some straightforward guidelines to help you in your daily struggle to keep everyone on the same page:
- Reward and recognize employees at all levels who adopt new decisions and actions that align with the overall vision and their place within it.
- Make the hard choices to eliminate areas that are unaligned while promoting areas that are aligned.
- Ensure that the business is always customer centric. Then, employees work toward creating outcomes that please customers instead of management. This customer focus helps to keep employees engaged and innovative, as they have a professional interest in offering the highest quality outcomes to your customers.
- Celebrate your successes. The recognition of wins on a company-wide level helps to reinforce the larger goals of the company. It encourages employees to identify how their small part contributes to the success of the greater whole.
And, of course, for your team to align, they also need to engage. Think about what those engagement strategies might look like in your company.
Aligning the business and the employees with your vision takes ongoing effort. Emphasizing internal collaboration contributes to open communication between departments and an “us” versus “them” culture. Using a collaborative planning process also ensures more employee involvement in the business objectives and offers more perspectives.
An internal mentoring program can also help employees, and aspiring managers understand the bigger picture and offer a platform to ask questions and better understand.
The entire process is never a singular step and is more than an annual strategy session to re-evaluate the vision (which is always best lead by an external, and objective, facilitator). The process is dynamic and ongoing every single day. The vision should be woven into all company communication and activities to create alignment.
X5 aligns leaders and teams with achieving. Our programs avoid bringing cookie-cutter solutions to unique and industry-specific challenges. We tailor our Coaching and Training Solutions to meet the needs of your organization and team. We also have a team of specialized trainers and coaches to support any business.
At X5, we believe in LRT (Like-Respect-Trust). We leverage this approach during our Discovery Meeting process as an opportunity to build LRT with new customers and members of their team. This is a critical value proposition when training and working with your team. It allows us to “seek to understand” why people do what they do and find out how they do it before we ask them to change.