Alignment for Effective Execution

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A high tech company is growing at a rapid pace. Revenue increases at 40% annually and headcount has doubled over the last three years. While the business is booming, senior managers are feeling that things are getting a little out of hand. Inconsistent approaches to decision-making and conflicting priorities create friction between teams, eroding morale and productivity.

This operational challenge is common not just with growing businesses. Many established businesses experience the same difficulties when teams and divisions operate in siloes. The lack of alignment leads to spinning, unproductive execution. Click To Tweet The damper effects on collaboration and work culture could be costly.

There are three key areas where you need to establish the foundational alignment in your business.

  1. Business priorities—this rests with the senior leaders to communicate the corporate strategy in a manner that is clear and meaningful to the employees. It is necessary to bring relevance in the communication so that the line-of-sight is clear. For example, how a ‘customer friendly’ objective applies to the human resources team and what it needs to do. Use clear examples and projects for illustrations in your communication so that employees can use the information to verify the validity of their thinking and work approaches. With clarity and specificity, your messages are relevant and provide the North Star to work toward.
  2. Operating systems—workflow drives speed and quality when tasks are completed without duplication and rework. When work is passed from one functional area to the next, it is important to minimize tasks such as checking, correction, and reformatting. You incur unnecessary costs every time someone spends time on these tasks. Similarly, work groups that don’t follow standard procedures are sure to generate more frustrations downstream. Consider the nightmare the procurement team faces when each functional area chooses to submit purchase orders on a schedule that suits itself, leaving inadequate time for Procurement to perform its work. Coherent operating systems need to align well with the overall business priorities to maximize the effects for results acceleration.
  3. Performance measurement—uncorrelated performance measurements tend to focus on functional mandates and ignore the cross impacts each area has on each other. Measure for measurement’s sake is haphazard because teams end up directing their energy to areas that are important to themselves. This could create issues for other teams. The silo thinking leads to conflicts. The lack of alignment in the measurement of unrelated results steers your teams off to a tangent. It also leads to unhealthy competition. A cost driven operations manager treats expenses as his top priority and would forego customer satisfaction. On the contrary, there is coherent execution when measurements are integrated to support the intricately related efforts. The alignment encourages your teams to collaborate.

Establishing and maintaining alignment require discipline. It could demand significant effort for businesses as they involves changes to existing practices. As a business leader, you need to be cognizant of the need and be actively involved in guiding your teams to align their execution efforts for sustainable success.

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