Alignment is to Execution, What Strategy is to Growth

Alignment Blog - Tanics

In today’s fast paced business world, the difference between great companies and not so great companies comes down to their ability to execute on their strategic plan.  Having a strong strategic plan and exceptionally talented people does not guarantee success.  Many companies find themselves trying to understand why they have not achieved their goals and often ask themselves why it is so difficult to complete our goals, is it our management, what or who is doing something wrong? 

Alignment is a Key to Success

Alignment is critical in so many team related activities especially in sports. History is riddled with examples of teams with great players and great coaches that have not tasted the sweet nectar of victory. In many of these examples, those teams don’t find their harmony and often work independently of each other and outside the agreed upon plan.  Unlike sports where you can clearly identify the losing team, business is more difficult to see the score and degradation is subtle.   Often companies blame their missed goals on symptomatic things like external factors or unforeseen issues.  While this can be true there is a percentage of the missed goals that can be directly linked back to the company’s ability to execute because of a lack of alignment.  There are 7 symptoms that can identify a lack of alignment:

  1. A divided workforce that seems to work hard yet achieve less than expected results

  2. An overly complicated communication process where management and staff need constant direction. Companies that struggle with alignment will often need to escalate more issues to higher levels of management

  3. Employee recognition is an issue as employees work exceptionally hard for little success. Over time the company struggles to recognize employees because of the lack of results however the employee feels like they have work exceptionally hard

  4. Management teams because divisive and a defensive mindset sets in

  5. Apathy is difficult to spot however a sure tell sign of apathy is when people ask for job descriptions and start to focus on their role and less about their goal

  6. Attrition is a sure sign that something is not right from within as people will often not leave because of external factors but more internal ones

  7. Poor execution of a strategic plan is the most telling sign of poor alignment. If large parts of the strategic plan are not advanced and their appears to be an overall inability to execute then this is proof that you have a misaligned workforce

Low Hanging Fruit

In a 2012 study by Economist Intelligence Unit: Why Good Strategies Fail - 61% of C-Suite acknowledged that their firms often struggle to bridge the gap between strategy formulation and its day-to-day implementation.    

Alignment is completely in the hands of a company’s management team and thus is within their ability to control and improve.  The real question is how to improve alignment across an entire company.  It first starts by implementing a performance management framework that helps guide all employees in their day-to-day activities.  By taking the time to clearly align the employee goals with the strategic plan a company can greatly improve how its workforce focuses and collaborates on goals. 

PMI. Pulse of the Profession In-Depth Report: The Impact of PMOs on Strategy Implementation. November 2013 reported projects and programs that are aligned to an organization’s strategy are completed successfully more often than projects that are misaligned (48 percent versus 71 percent).  

Companies that introduce a more formal goal setting activity that is aligned to their strategic plan will see significant improvement in a relatively short amount of time which can be measured by improvements to the above 7 symptoms.   

Alignment Best Practice

Regardless of your performance management framework, Smart Goals or OKRs, alignment can be done with any framework.  The most successful approach is to cascade goals down throughout your company. For example, start with your company goals ensuring that they encompass your critical strategic objectives while being holistic and high level.  Work those goals down from your CEO through your management layers to you entire workforce. Ensure that each manager aligns their team to some parts of the strategic plan.  Some employees will have goals that are more operation and tactical as there is always parts of the workforce that maintains the business.  However, incorporating certain operation goals inside the strategic plan will ensure that your day-to-day business is completely aligned no matter their focus. 

Tools can Make the Difference

With today’s high-tech tools there is no reason to use spreadsheets.  Tools such as Tanics makes setting, aligning and monitoring goals easy.  These tools can also significantly improve how people collaborate by creating transparency and concentrating all the communication for goals in one central system. Aligned, common shared goals create cohesive team that achieve results. 

To learn more head to tanics.io and check out our free trial. www.tanics.io

 
Chris Hildebrandt