Align - Getting All Heads In The GameJun 08, 2022
Align - to be in or come into precise adjustment or correct relative position. Merriam Webster Online Dictionary
Alignment is a critical element in organizational health and vitality. Are people collaborating and supporting each other to achieve greater outcomes? Humans are designed to be "in community". When this happens in a healthy way, great things can be achieved. When people feel alone... energy, effort, outcomes suffer.
I saw this on a friend's LinkedIn post recently:
I have been doing my business for ten years. We are profitable and growing, but my culture feels like chaos. It seems like we are a bunch of people with nothing in common who spend most of our time disagreeing. It's wearing me out, and our turnover is high. Is this just what business is like, or can I do something to improve? Misaligned
Unfortunately, a lot of organizations just live with the chaos figuring that is the way business is. What are the costs of misalignment:
- Low employee engagement
- Turnover of talent
- Lack of direction and purpose
- Low productivity and profitability
- Lost opportunity
The 3rd step in the EQFIT® proprietary process is align. I know...many consultants and coaches profess their ability to support alignment processes, and some do it well.
The EQFIT® approach to alignment is a 360 degree approach. Here are the elements:
- Clearly defined and communicated purpose/vision (so everyone can understand)
- A leadership guiding coalition (where leaders are unified in purpose, process, practices, and values)
- Accountability practices designed to achieve the shared purpose
- Equipping people to know, understand, and be able to meet expectations
- Easily accessible dashboards or other measures/metrics important to accomplishing the desired outcomes/purpose
- Sustained learning and development to grow capacity and competency
This may seem complicated, but it can be fairly simple. Let me share a story that will illustrate this.
One of our clients was struggling to put in place a successful outbound sales process. Their website and marketing were good but their outbound sales process had never really been successful. I met with the six leaders and asked them to tell me what the most important thing the outbound sales effort had to do. I got this answer, "bring in new customers!" This is the answer that I expected. Then I asked them how this outbound sales effort would do that...chaos! In the following 10 minutes of conversation, I received at least a dozen different thoughts. But this process was necessary to get everything out on the table. There was SO much confusion around what was needed, what would work, and how this could happen. Misalignment. We began the process of aligning their thoughts in a way that we could reach a consensus on what the realistic expectations of this effort would be. In 1 hour, we were able to align around a shared purpose and direction. Even better, they agreed on the one thing that this sales effort had to do and intentionally protected that effort by rejecting other things that would dilute this important effort.
Aligning is more than expressing a direction or purpose. It must be a process of engaging team members to choose to actively align their time, energy, and focus with the purpose/vision. This comes through understanding how their role has an impact on the bigger picture. Where belonging to something greater than themselves enhances motivation and optimism.
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