Company alignment can be elusive for even the smallest start-up companies, not to mention companies with multiple divisions or remote employees. As the CEO, aligning your company to succeed starts with you. It would be best to have a company alignment strategy, so here are a few ways to get started.
According to research from Harvard Business Review, "85% of executive leadership teams spend less than one hour per month discussing strategy, and 50% spend no time at all." Alignment problems start at the top with senior executives. This can happen when they do not entirely know your plan or what you are thinking.
So, to make sure all levels of the organization know what is expected of them, align with your sales leader and let them know your plan from the start. For instance, if you start going a hundred miles an hour and do not inform your sales leader, they will have to play catch-up and not understand where you are going or where you came from. This is defined as the Marathon Effect.
The lack of alignment with your leadership team often trickles down to each department, sales, marketing, operations, etc., and they begin to form their own agendas. As teams like Sales get vested in their plans, it becomes increasingly harder to attain alignment and shared purpose.
This can cause leaders and employees to receive distorted messaging, resulting in wasted time and energy as separate teams struggle with conflicting goals.
One of your most potent tools for company alignment is one-on-one meetings with each member of your leadership team. As soon as you stop meeting, issues will arise, and conflict will occur more frequently.
One-on-one meetings can be effective in driving behavior and motivating leaders who need that extra push. However, if they are not well-defined or focused, they become time-consuming and provide little value to either participant.
By maintaining your weekly one-on-one, you will stay aligned and focused on specific goals and objectives from your team. You will know what they are working on, and they'll be able to help make your vision or ideas a reality. Consider that if you do not align objectives across your company, you could have people replicating one another's work or, even worse, "rowing in the opposite direction."
There are often negative connotations about "being held accountable," especially when things go wrong. But accountability can be a good thing. CEOs should use the word "accountability" openly and frequently to remind their teams that they are being recognized for their success and led towards better company alignment.
To be accountable, your leadership team needs to know exactly what expectations they are being held to. Many CEOs think they are transparent with their expectations, but teams often have a different impression.
CEOs may have hidden expectations, which can be disastrous for you and your team. Having consistent and precise expectations is essential for your company and team's accountability.
You must have the right values, beliefs, and attitudes in place to cultivate company alignment. This all blends together within your company culture. However, according to a Deloitte survey, "Only 19% of executives and 15% of employees believe strongly that their culture is widely upheld within their own organizations."
Having an environment where people can be transparent about their goals and are willing to work hard to move the company forward does not happen by accident. Investing considerable effort into building the right culture for your company is a must. According to Builtin, "94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a strong company culture is a key to business success."
When organizations develop positive cultures, they achieve significantly higher levels of organizational effectiveness — including financial performance, customer satisfaction, productivity, employee engagement, and better company alignment.
This last tool can be used to build better company alignment, combining accountability and MITs or Most Important Things within your one-on-ones.
This is where your leadership team reports on the focus activities set from the previous one-on-one meeting and whether or not they were successful.
Your role as the CEO is to make sure you are not telling your leaders what to do, or what their plan should be. You want them to think through their plan and come up with their own goals to focus on.
Your role as the CEO is to provide them with feedback, reinforce the positive things and amend where needed so they can make adjustments weekly vs. waiting until it's too late. Your leaders will appreciate knowing what they are doing is directly tied to their sales goals and your expectations.
Better company alignment is not built overnight. It starts with you, the CEO, and trickles down to the rest of the company. If you include your leaders in your new ideas, stick to your one-on-ones, use your MITs, and hold them accountable, it'll be all that much easier to build the culture you desire and align your company to prosper.