Business alignment. We’ve all heard the phrase, but what does it actually mean? You can define alignment simply as having all the business “pulling in the same direction”.
Think of your employees as one side in a tug of war. All have their hands on the rope and are working their hardest. However, if everyone pulls in different directions, nobody will be moving forward. They’ll be pulling against each other, not with each other.
The key to effective business alignment is to ensure that everyone knows what the right direction is (the goal) and what their part is in getting there (their role).
Only when your employees can see the bigger picture can they align themselves with the goals of your company, and work towards them.
Your business goals
This is probably a good moment to think about your business goals.
Do you know what your goals are?
Do your employees know what your goals are, and why you have them?
And most importantly,
Do your employees understand how their everyday work fits into the process of achieving those goals?
We all know business goals need to be SMART - specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.
They also need to be relevant and real to your employees. A goal about increasing turnover that simply feathers the shareholder’s nests is neither relevant nor inspiring to employees.
Goals that resonate
Employees will only align with goals that have meaning and resonance for their work. Such goals give their work purpose, help them identify priorities, instil a sense of pride and enthusiasm, and give them the opportunity to be recognised for their achievements (more on this later).
That means goals need to exist at all levels, focused down to the individual, as well as department or company-wide.
Your employee alignment strategy
Even when you’ve got your business goals just right, that’s only the start of the process. Now your business needs an employee alignment strategy.
Here’s TalkFreely’s five point strategy: RIACT
You need an efficient, effective way to communicate company goals with employees that’s clear, consistent and accessible. The TalkFreely cloud-based communications app puts your goals, information, news and more in the palms of your employees’ hands. There’s a clear line of vertical communication that prevents your message becoming diluted or distorted, and always available, whether your employee is at their desk, or in the field.
Goals are just visions until people make them happen. Your business needs to involve your employees in conversations about goals, how to achieve them, what the challenges are, and more. With TalkFreely, you give each and every employee a voice, and the opportunity for genuine two-way conversations with you, your management team, and their colleagues. By letting people discuss projects in a virtual space, TalkFreely enables peer-to-peer cooperation and collaboration without boundaries.
Alignment is not a one-off process. It’s the product of keeping employees continually informed, engaged and enthused about your business and your goals. This doesn’t mean continual top-down messages from the management, endlessly reiterating goals or dishing out dull press releases. With TalkFreely, you can:
- Send the latest news as it happens direct to people who need to know it, keeping them bang up to date.
- Challenge employees to solve pressing problems, or grasp new opportunities
- Keep everything on message, to reflect your company values
You can also ensure employees have the information, resources and support system to take on board new goals, new challenges, new information - and align with them more quickly and easily.
AKA, recognition and reward. Once you’ve identified great examples of alignment, celebrate them with high level recognition and appropriate and timely rewards. It’s no good saying “when we achieve goal x, you’ll get a bonus”. You need to enable everyone (and we mean, everyone) to see good alignment in practice and give a shout out about it.
With TalkFreely, recognition and reward is built into the heart of our app. You can monitor, recognise and reward great work, positive alignment, and trending topics quickly and easily – all from within the app. Give your people recognition within minutes, not weeks, with a virtual star or thumbs up. Share success stories and inspirational examples anytime, across your business, to align people departments and locations and reaffirm those all-important business goals.
Equally, employees can recognise the hard work and achievement of their colleagues and give a shout out about that too. Peer to peer recognition is incredibly powerful - and a great motivator too
Alignment is a continual process. By tracking the process and progress of goals, your business can assess what worked well, where the weak points were, whether in communications, implementation or recognition, and fix them for next time.
Key to this is feedback. Timely, accessible, constructive feedback is rocket fuel for alignment, and helps accelerates your business towards achieving your goals. TalkFreely enables you to give and receive positive feedback on good practice, or target non-alignment with corrective feedback.
Monitor activity and provide real-time feedback, important for the identification and recognition of where alignment is happening.
When alignment isn’t happening, or has taken a bit of a wrong turn, you can quickly give corrective feedback direct to the people concerned.
Survey employees to build a picture of the state of alignment over time, and identify areas for improvement.
Remember, feedback should flow both ways; you and your management teams need to know when you’re misaligned too!