When striving toward success within a company, it’s essential to ensure that all departments work toward the same goals. Unfortunately, it’s all too common for different departments within an organization to be executing against different strategies and measuring their progress against different key performance indicators (KPIs). As you might imagine, this can lead to widespread confusion and inefficiencies. Here’s a deeper look at this issue and how to solve it within your own company.
Common Challenges Companies Face
- We miss opportunities and risks by developing only one part of the business instead of the interdependent whole. For example, the marketing VP is having a hard time holding members of their team accountable; let’s get her a coach. Members of the IT department don’t have a shared vision; let’s put them through a vision session. The executive team isn’t clear on what kind of business they are in; let’s do some strategic planning. When we have this splintered, siloed approach, we miss opportunities to uncover and learn from problems cohesively as well as to create long-term solutions.
- Employees don’t see how they add value beyond their efforts to the team, organization or customer. As Dan Pink says in his book “Drive,” people are motivated in part when they contribute to something larger than themselves. And as Simon Sinek says in “Start with Why,” the currency for engagement is meaningful work. In addition, work that is done for short-term gain and is centered only on the individual is transactional and uninteresting. Work that produces long-term benefits and aligns with others is transformational.
- We tend to address the symptoms rather than the sources. Organizations are structured, and employees are incentivized, for execution. However, they are not structured for learning. When the speed for completing tasks overtakes reflection, curiosity and what project managers call “after-action reviews,” we encourage the same broken processes and behaviors to continue.
Given such prevalent and unpleasant challenges they face, how can organizations achieve alignment?
- We need a roadmap that aligns the individual to the team, from the team to the end-user or customer. For example, see the MFI Organizational Value Alignment Model. When we have this alignment, we encourage interdependence and collaboration, goals, objectives and KPIs can easily roll up from the individual to the organization.
- Starting at the organizational level, the company needs a clear and compelling purpose that captures the emotions of employees, partners and the community. Then, each department needs a purpose statement that considers its unique work but supports the organization’s purpose. Lastly, employees need to know their purpose and how it gets expressed at the company.
- We need a way to translate knowledge and create new habits. In the knowledge economy – such as the one we are in now – the trick isn’t getting access to information. After all, financial statements, monthly dashboards and Google searches are easy to come by. The value of all this information is the meaning we can derive from it, our ability to translate it in a way others can hear, and our understanding that communicating once doesn’t mean people understand it, let alone act on it. Behavior change requires constant reminders and practice.
- Encourage cross-functional collaboration. Lastly, we must motivate employees from different departments to work together to achieve common goals. By doing this, you can ensure that all departments work towards the same objectives and that strategies and KPIs are aligned across the organization.
By clearly defining your organization’s vision and objectives, communicating with other departments, using data to track progress and encouraging cross-functional collaboration, you can ensure that your department’s strategies and KPIs are in line with the organization’s overall objectives – and that true alignment is reached.
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