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A Step-by-Step Guide to Achieving Organizational Alignment Here are the key steps CEOs should follow to build organizational alignment within their companies.

By Doug Walner

Key Takeaways

  • Six steps CEOs can follow to achieve organizational alignment — and why it's important.
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As a CEO, you put valuable time and effort into mastering your business strategy. It shapes your business structure and operations by providing life to your vision, purpose and values, driving the way you work.

But no matter how solid your strategy, it's only impactful if every team member is onboard, in sync and focused on the most important things.

In my experience, achieving organizational alignment starts with me as the leader. The only way to do it successfully is from the top down.

Related: 'The Alignment Factor': The Keys to Internal Alignment

Why is organizational alignment important?

Organizational alignment means that all employees have clarity about their roles and responsibilities, specifically in regard to how they contribute to the company's success. It involves creating a sense of purpose and clarity around the individual tasks that they do each day.

A business cannot scale without top-down alignment. The key is to create a unified front of team members working harmoniously toward the same goals.

Achieving organizational alignment requires deliberate action and a systematic approach. Here are the key steps that CEOs can follow to build organizational alignment within their companies:

Step 1: Build the right team

Hiring the right people for the right roles may seem obvious, and yet so many companies get it wrong. Companies often hire people based on experience and skillset alone, but they forget about another incredibly important factor: culture fit.

Should culture fit be the top priority when it comes to hiring? Probably not. But nonetheless, it can't be disregarded because it has a high impact on organizational performance. Having people on your team who believe in and agree with your company values is critical to moving the organization forward. If an employee's values are not in line with those of the company, they won't be motivated to contribute to achieving the mission, and therefore, they are more likely to underperform.

Step 2: Rally the team around a shared purpose

Your purpose must resonate with all other foundational aspects of your business — vision, mission, etc. All team members should know, understand and commit to upholding the company's purpose. It's important to consistently remind team members of the "why" behind their daily work to maintain motivation. Attributing each goal to achieving a larger mission helps keep the larger mission in sight, even when narrowing it down to individual tasks.

Step 3: Set and track collaborative goals

With the broader strategy in place, break down the overarching goals by teams. Here you can enlist the help of your management team to break down the goals further into individual roles.

In order to set and track goals properly, you must be on board with establishing a culture of transparency and accountability. Being transparent about individual responsibilities ensures that no two team members are stepping on each other's toes, and everyone knows who is working on what.

Furthermore, all employees should know how their teammates are progressing on targets. Making this data visible encourages team members to hold themselves and each other accountable. When employees encounter roadblocks, they should know who to approach for guidance and support.

Consider using OKR software tools for optimal goal management.

Step 4: Implement good communication habits

We know that communication is often the root cause of workplace failures. It's essential to not only strengthen the communication skills of your team members but also to establish systems and processes that will streamline effective communication.

Teams should have daily stand-up meetings, also called huddles. Daily huddles are quick meetings structured to include updates on goals to keep everyone in the loop on the team's performance. Managers should also have consistent one-on-one meetings with their direct reports to review targets on a more in-depth level and facilitate effective communication between managers and employees.

In addition to tools like Slack and Zoom, you may also consider adopting an integrative workspace system with communication capabilities to streamline conversations.

Related: Why Aligning Your Company Values is Crucial for Long-Term Success

Step 5: Encourage teamwork

By having employees work together to achieve goals, you yield better collaboration and faster results. Employees bring diverse perspectives, skills and experiences to the table, which can lead to innovative solutions and improved efficiency.

In addition to being proven to boost morale, promoting teamwork in the workplace reinforces the concept of working together to achieve common goals, promoting alignment among team members.

6. Focus on employee engagement

Employee engagement is a key indicator of business performance and alignment. It's important to consistently show appreciation to your employees and remind them that their contributions are meaningful.

Consider using culture-building tools, like surveys and the Employer Net Promoter Score (eNPS), to gauge how well your culture is performing. These tools measure workplace engagement and satisfaction and can also provide insights into how employees perceive their work's impact on the company's mission, vision and values. By addressing any misalignments, CEOs can strengthen organizational alignment and improve performance.

The common theme among all these steps is that they all involve the team. I would argue that in any successful organization, your people are your best asset. Refining, empowering and driving forward employees falls on the shoulders of the CEO. This is why it's critical to get every step right and ensure you are actively working toward strengthening your team at its core.

An empowered and aligned workforce is a productive one, and as the leader of the team, it starts with you.

Related: How To Align Your Company Goals To Breed Success

Doug Walner

CEO of align

Doug Walner is the CEO of Align Technologies Corp. Doug has led companies for over 25 years across several industries including human capital management, aviation, media, and consumer goods. Doug served as CEO of PSI Services LLC, Co-CEO of Stamps.com, and Chief Commercial Officer of Row 44.

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