In business, the key to success is alignment

The Key to Success is Alignment

Organizations are systems, everything’s connected to everything else. Because of this, alignment is crucial to achieve success. If the pieces of your business model are not aligned, margins will deteriorate and competition will overcome you.

The alignment of your strategy, your business model, the structure of your company, your culture, your capabilities and your remuneration system is the key to creating profitable growth and increasing returns for shareholders and employees.

Search for misalignments between strategy, structure, operations and your organization´s culture.

How to aligne the strategy with your team

You’ll only be able to align your team with the strategy if the latter is compelling, distinctive and outstanding because, in this case, you’ll have a centre of gravity. If your strategy is too ordinary, they’ll forget it soon.

You’ll need enormous help from your team to keep consistency alive. If you want success, your strategy must be shared by everyone. Achieving this will not be easy.

The first step is to make your team act and feel as participants in your strategy’s creation and development, they must feel included. People tend to resist doing what they’ve been tasked with and tend to favour what they’ve helped create.

Strategy cannot be imposed. You have to apply it by listening and persuading, not by speaking and demanding. People don’t change until their hearts are moved, so your leadership must be one of influence, not power. Open a discussion with your team to help them align themselves with the vision.

Even when you believe you have clear ideas, don’t approach them with the solution. Display the situation, share information and ask: What should we do? You’ll be surprised at the quality and richness of their propositions and it will help you define an improved strategy.

Don’t impose your ideas. You must be open to their influence and to defining your ideas with their input and they must see that this is so. Alignment within organizations doesn’t happen at the summit, but in one-to-one conversation with the employees.

There is a curious gravitational force within companies that make people feel excluded. Your employees are constantly trying to figure out if you’re as involved in your relationship with them as they are with you, and if they believe you are not, they’ll disconnect from your goals.

The first step is to gain the support of relevant executives and leaders. They’ll help you spread the vision and the strategy.

You must accept in advance that not everyone will buy into your vision, some will resist and leave, while you’ll have to ask some others to leave as well.

Encourage debate with your team, don’t be authoritarian. Be open to discussion, one of the things that most limits our learning is thinking we already know something. It doesn’t matter how intelligent your plan is if your team doesn’t buy it and execute it as it was their own.

A leader’s job is to align their team, to give shape to and reinforce the culture. You can try to change your employees’ way of thinking and trust that it will lead them to a change of behaviour, or you can change their behaviour and hope it will lead them to a new way of thinking. The latter is more effective.

Consequences of no alignment in business

The greatest enemy of profit is misalignment within the organization. Companies lose considerable resources while they apply different and contradictory strategies that interfere with the others and completely undermine efficiency.

You must align all functional decisions in your company with the competitive advantages in which you want to distinguish yourself. Choose three things that you want to do really well in your company. Choose three priorities, if you choose ten it is like choosing none. After making your choice, you must communicate the relevant priorities to the rest of the company.

Your compensation system must be very aligned with the strategy. If your variable remuneration looks in a different direction than your strategy, you’ll create great confusion in your team.

 

If you think that the different pieces in your organization are not aligned and that you are unable to align them, start thinking of selling the company because unfortunately it will not stand the pressure of competition. Find out now the three reasons that indicate that we are in the best moment to begin the process of selling!

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