Align Your Team

The first week of January is over. Are your people aligned?

Is every team member, from your front line employee to supervisor to mid-level manager and above, clear about the strategic direction of the organization? In most companies, it’s well into the calendar year before team members understand the vision and strategy. If this is the case on your team, you’ll probably notice a lack of clarity, confusion and unspoken expectations. The business results you’ll experience are lost productivity, low employee engagement, and missed opportunities.

Do you want your team and organization to reach its highest level of effectiveness?

Organizational Clarity

Alignment starts with clarity at the senior leadership team level – clarity of mission, vision, and values, and clarity of strategic objectives for the year. What happens at the senior leadership team level will get repeated and amplified throughout the remainder of the organization.

In the most effective companies, the strategic planning process starts early, and by December 1st of the previous calendar year, strategic objectives have been communicated with departments and teams.

Departmental and/or Team Level Clarity

Once the strategic level objectives have been established and communicated, the same process can happen at the departmental and team levels. Leaders should focus first on defining and communicating their vision. This is often a forgotten step in the process as leaders make it more complicated than it needs to be. But, by reflecting on the purpose of the team, vision for the future, and how you will get there, you’ll be able to create a very compelling vision. Then, you can communicate your vision at every opportunity, from water cooler conversations to weekly team meetings.

After your vision is clear, define and create goals for your team/ department. Share these goals and gather feedback from your team members. This will not only help build commitment toward a shared direction, but will also result in ideas you hadn’t thought about. Post your goals on your office window or somewhere everyone can see them to create transparency.

Individual Clarity

Once team/departmental level goals are clear, you can begin the process of bringing those goals to reality by helping team members establish their individual performance goals. This should be a two-way coaching conversation between the leader and team member, where the team member takes a first cut at creating her goals and the leader sets high expectations and ensures the goals are aligned.

If people are working on things that are not aligned with the strategic goals of the organization, they are working on the wrong things.

So, how is your team doing?

Is the strategic direction of the organization clear? Has it been communicated and shared? Are team/departmental level objectives clear? Are they aligned with the organizational objectives? Are they visible to create transparency?  Does each of your team members have performance goals? Were they part of the process?

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