As a kid, my family loved taking trips to see extended family and friends and more than a few were trips out of state. Growing up in central Florida meant spending lots of time on the road. One thing I remember my father doing, before these trips, was to get the car aligned. I learned later in life that alignment prolonged our tires and created a safer drive to our new destination.
Alignment isn't just for cars; organizations need it too. Follow these steps for your organization before embarking on a journey of change.
Communicate Your Strategy
According to Forbes magazine, “65% of organizations have an agreed-upon strategy but only 14% of employees understand it, and less than 10% of all organizations successfully execute it.”
That's a communication breakdown. The organization’s strategy shouldn’t be a secret.
Leaders need to communicate their strategy as if it were a map for a cross-country trip that guides their corporate family to a new destination. Once everyone understands where their heading they will have a better appreciation for what they’ll need to pack and what types of activities they will be able to engage in when they get there. Leaders need to make the destination and vision of where the organization is going concise and clear and keep it in front of their team at all times.
Determine your new behavior and habits
Once the corporate strategy is communicated and understood, the next priority is to ensure that the culture of the organization support this new destination. Think of culture as the habits and emotional state of the organization. Your culture is like your personality. When you move to a new city on the opposite coast you will need to adjust your personality to fit in, think about moving from New York to San Diego.
Organizations should focus on changing their behavior and linking the new behaviors to be consistent with their new business destination. Since you can’t change everything at once, focus on the critical few behaviors that will drive the most change and create the greatest value in your new environment.
In a Korn Ferry survey, “72% of executives agreed that culture is extremely important to organizational performance, yet only 32% believed their own organization’s culture is aligned with its business strategies.”
It’s like wanting everyone around you to adjust to your personality in your new city.
Get an alignment
What’s needed is an alignment between the organization’s strategy, culture, and talent and the only way to figure it out is to ask the right questions. Image half way through your trip you get sick, it happens, and you have to see a doctor for some meds to address what you have and get some rest. So, you can also think of alignment as being the prescribed medication for your illness. Your doctor will make a diagnosis, give you a prognosis, then prescribe the medication to address your needs. Once you're feeling better, you should adjust the dosage or stop taking it. Now, where’s my map; it’s time to hit the road again.
When new business goals or strategies are required to meet your organization’s needs, everyone on your team has to learn, adjust and change to achieve the new strategy. The best way to create this change is to get buy-in from everyone. And, the best way to get buy-in is to recruit authentic informal change agents to spread the word about the new desired behavior.
When you need to adjust your behavior to align with your new strategy, consider these 5 questions:
- What is our current strategy to achieve our organizational goals and objectives?
- What culture do we desire?
- What is our As-Is culture and why do we have it?
- What about our organizational environment should we change to obtain the culture, behaviors and emotional state we're seeking?
- How do we implement our new culture in a way that everyone buys into and adopt?
Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”
The goal of strategy and culture alignment is to keep the organization working together like a well-oiled machine that’s ready for a cross-country excursion. What changes does your organization need to make to align its strategy, culture, and talent?