In our last post, we talked about why organizational alignment is important. And we shared some strategies to accomplish that. Today, we’re going over three barriers to creating an aligned organization. These barriers prevent companies from reaching their desired state. Businesses use different systems to get all aspects of the business running in sync. Nevertheless, there are common stumbling blocks that can halt your progress.
Organizational Alignment Road Block #1: Not Including All Parts of the Organization in the Plan
Having an aligned organization means that all divisions of the company are working together to accomplish its goals. The transformation needs to includes all departments. Yet, often the strategy leaves off entire teams. This is especially true when the departments are not customer-facing. Too frequently not included are areas like IT or Human Resources. But, if the company has a new strategy, HR would need to hire people that can help carry out that mission. The IT department will need to understand the vision of the company. This way they can install the right software or support staff members with their technology needs. Every division needs to be on board. Leaving out key groups can be detrimental to creating a high-performing organization.
Organizational Alignment Road Block #2: Not Ensuring Alignment Between Culture and Strategy
The culture of a business is the set of beliefs that drive employee behavior. Strategy refers to vision and goals. While meaning and values comprise the culture. Innovation and creativity may be the focus of a culture. Companies like Pixar, Google, and Facebook for instance. Employees are rewarded for developing new products or ideas. And they are not punished if they don’t work out. Meanwhile, other companies like UPS or Walmart have a corporate culture that focuses on efficiency. Their employees may not be able to spend as much time thinking of new ways to do things, but instead on following instructions and completing tasks in a timely manner. Neither culture is better. However, there is alignment of culture and strategy at these organizations. The key to success is making sure strategy and culture go hand in hand.
Business can ensure the culture and strategy match up through a few different methods. Conducting regular anonymous employee surveys and recruiting the right people will help. They also need to make sure that those people promoted into leadership positions understand the strategy. These new leaders need to embody the culture, so they can serve as an example to others.
Organizational Alignment Road Block #3: Focusing on One Desired Element, at the Expense of Others
Often leaders will pick a key goal or area to focus on to try to make productive adjustments. However, it’s important to make sure that other areas of the company don’t suffer because of that one desired outcome. This is known as sub optimization. It refers to a reduced level of output from an inefficient process or system. For instance, a business may make an effort to save money. In doing so, they may cut down on the number of representatives answering their customer service phone line. The bottom line may be improved initially. But over time, longer wait times may upset customers. Eventually customers may take their business elsewhere. Thus, the company loses revenue. Before making a decision about one component of the business, it’s important to think through how it will impact all other areas.
Often, if managers can cut expenses in their departments, the businesses will offer incentives. These changes should not be harmful to other departments. Positive momentum in their area needs to help other areas of the business also. Managers need to remember to fully think long-term to predict negative implications.
Other ways to improve your organizational alignment…
Take a look at three real-life businesses that are crushing it when it comes to organizational alignment.