The Importance of Alignment

Posted by Tom Locke on August 28th, 2013 filed in Business, General, Life

A tip of the hat to the Creative Communication Network on their blog post regarding alignment (http://ffbsccn.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/6-a-healthy-organization-is-good-at-alignment-its-people-are-on-the-same-page-with-genuine-buy-in-throughout-the-organization-12-vital-signs-of-organ/)

Here are some excerpts from that piece:

A healthy organization is good at “alignment” — its people are on the same page, with genuine buy-in throughout the organization.

A “big” company that seems to pull this off is Southwest Airlines.  You can tell when listening to the over-the-microphone announcements by flight attendants that “this is a Southwest Airlines person”.  Sadly, you can also tell, when flying on other airlines, that “this is not a Southwest Airlines person”.  There are a few other “big” companies that seem to do this well.

And , then, there are those that don’t come close – nowhere near close.

All in, alignment is a direction and an approach and a style and a tone that is clear, definable, and embraced by everyone in the organization.  And, this alignment is so important to the organization that they invest time, money, people in keeping everyone aligned.   This is so important that when a new person comes on board, they are practically brainwashed into the organizational culture.  (I mean this in a good way).  They are shown, and taught, very quickly, very intentionally – from and by people who believe in it, live it, swear by it.  And their every interaction with a member of the leadership team reinforces this alignment.  They just sense that: “everyone truly is on the same page – I’d better get on that page too.”

This is a real challenge to pull off.  Which is why you see it so seldom experienced. And, as an organization grows, it is even tougher to maintain.

Do you have alignment in your organization?

It may be time for a little diagnostic work.  [And it all starts with the leadership team.]

Are the people on your leadership team on the same page – and is it the right page?

Does everyone in the organization know that the leadership team is on the same page?  (Hint – just telling them may not reveal much.  They can only tell by observing and experiencing.  In other words, you can’t fake being on the same page.  You really have to be on the same page).

Now, is everyone throughout the organization on the same page?

And, next, are all new folks practically indoctrinated, very, very quickly, so that each new person who comes on board feels this sense of “all in” – and then lands on that same page with everyone else very quickly?

You read a lot about “employee engagement.”  It is pretty clear that a whole bunch of employees, in a large number of organizations, are not engaged.  The latest figures put it at fewer than 30% of employees who are fully, truly engaged.  Well, trust me – low employee engagement pretty much guarantees a whopping deficiency in the “alignment – all in” department.

It is pretty tough to have a healthy organization if people are not on the same page.  It they are not on the same page, get to work on that problem — now – today.  It will take you awhile, but you’ve got to do it.

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