Your Car and Your Business – The Importance of Alignment

While taking my car in for an oil change, the mechanic asked about whether I would like the alignment checked on my vehicle. I had just purchased new tires and inquired about the importance of alignment.  The mechanic said,” When your car is out of alignment, your vehicle can start pulling to the right of left, you will experience uneven or rapid tire wear, and your steering wheel appears crooked even when you are driving straight.” Additionally, I heard that proper wheel alignment is necessary for a vehicle to handle well when driving and can affect safety. When I thought about the consequences of your car being out of alignment, it also suggested the problems which occur when parts of your organization are out of alignment with the vision for the organization.

When there is a connection between the direction, strategy, goals and purpose of the organization, it is much more likely to sustain performance and become more agile in the face of change. For example, when employees understand the direction the company is taking and their role in making it happen, he/she can make better decisions. All too often, however, the vision breaks down when it comes to the individual and he/she do not understand how their work helps the organization become the vision and this influences their level of engagement and motivation.

It is not enough to create a vision for your organization, it needs to be relatable to everyone in the organization and a strategic communication process must be developed. Leaders often create a vision and mission for their organization and that is where it ends. They may even hold organization wide meetings to announce the vision, but unless people throughout the organization understand what it means for them it is not more than words.

In addition, the leadership team needs to be onboard. Nothing will undermine a cultural change initiative quicker than a leadership team with no ownership in the process. Prior to the announcement, the leader should meet with the executive team and get their insights into the vision. When people have a chance to co-create the vision, they will work harder to bring it to fruition. Once the leadership team is onboard, a strategic communication process needs to be developed. Once established the leadership team needs to focus their communication on the vision and consistently tie decisions back to the vision and goals of the organization.

People throughout the organization should be held recognized for behaviors which align with the vision and held accountable when their behaviors do not. A huge part of a cultural change are the behaviors of the senior leaders. If honesty and acting with integrity are values your organization subscribes to and the leaders are not being honest, the vision soon becomes a hoax. Much like your vehicle, when things are out of alignment in your organization, individuals are going in different directions and it wears on the organization. Consistent communication and behaviors which align with the vision will over time become known as how everyone operates at your organization.

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