In our last post, we talked about why organizational alignment is important and shared some strategies for accomplishing it. Today, we’re going over three barriers to creating an aligned organization, that prevent companies from reaching that desired state. No matter which system or plan you use to get all aspects of your business running in sync with one another, 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. It makes sense that all departments would need to be included in the transformation. Yet, oftentimes, entire teams may be left off of the strategy. This is especially true when the departments are not customer-facing, 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 so 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. While strategy refers to vision and goals, culture is comprised of meaning and values. For example, companies like Pixar, Google, and Facebook have cultures that are focused on innovation and creativity. Their employees are rewarded when they develop new products or ideas and they aren’t punished when 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. The culture and strategy are aligned at these organizations. Neither culture is better. 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, recruiting the right people, and making sure the people who are promoted to leadership positions understand the strategy and 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 when leaders try to make productive adjustments, they’ll pick a key goal or area to focus on. 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 and refers to a reduced level of output from an inefficient process or system. For instance, in an effort to save money, a business may decide to cut down on the number of representatives answering their customer service phone line. Although the bottom line may be improved at first, over time, customers may be upset by the longer wait times and eventually 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.
Many times, this happens because businesses offer incentives to managers if they can cut expenses in their departments. They’ll need to be reminded that positive momentum in their area needs to help other areas of the business, too, instead of harming them. Managers need to fully think through their suggestions and think long-term to predict negative implications.
Come back next week, when we look at three real-life businesses that are crushing it when it comes to organizational alignment.