Is Your Organization Strategically Aligned? Do This Test.
Setting goals with your teams and your organization at large is part of the process to drive results. But you’ll only get so far if you are missing strategic alignment between your goals and the people and processes that support them. According to research compiled by the Metrus Group, only 14% of employees have a good understanding of their company’s strategy and direction. If your employees don’t understand what their goals are and how their activities support those goals, strategic alignment will suffer. And if you’ve got new practices in place that conflict with and undermine other aspects of your business, you can still fall short of your vision for success.
Here are three ways to test your company for strategic alignment:
1. Test your people.
Make an effort to get out of your office and go have some honest conversations with people, everyone from your closest team members to those who may be on the frontlines of your business. Find out if these individuals know what their goals are—ask them! If you are repeatedly hearing people say they’re not sure or if they are telling you the wrong goals, then that’s an indication of a clear lack of strategic alignment. After all, no one can work toward a goal if they don’t know what it is in the first place. If you feel talking to people personally will put them too much on the spot, consider an anonymous survey that asks some straightforward questions about what their goals are. The point is to get the information you need so you can determine next steps.
2. Check the link between goals and supporting activities.
If your people are aware of their goals, explore whether their activities and behaviors are supporting those goals. For example, if your company’s vital goal is to provide excellent customer service, but frontline employees are communicating in ways that upset customers, this would indicate a lack of strategic alignment between the goal and what your people are doing. Mindsets and behaviors that do not facilitate the attainment of the goal are red flags signaling strategic misalignment. Clearly, corrective action is in order, but first determine whether your team has the training and capability to execute what you’re asking of them. If your staff is lacking in experience, skills, or resources needed for goal implementation, find a way to bridge that gap.
3. Scrutinize alignment of organizational processes and procedures.
Do you have systems, policies, procedures, or other “rules” that conflict with the fresh objectives you’ve set? Sometimes when things have always been done a certain way for years but then new goals are established, the former methodologies may not support or could downright undermine the success of the new direction. In that case, something has to change. Before you go replacing an old tactic with something new, make sure what you’re doing will truly align with your goals and mission. For example, let’s say your strategy is to provide a higher level of customer service than your competitors. But then a new cost-cutting idea surfaces, which could compromise your organization’s customer-service levels. In this case, the proposed idea is in opposition to your strategy and shouldn’t be undertaken. Remember, goals will only be successful if they are achievable, so if processes and procedures throughout the organization aren’t aligned to support the goal, then the goal becomes less achievable.