To maintain strategic alignment, a company’s employees, culture, structure, and process have to flex, adapt, and react as the strategy itself shifts
In the automotive aftermarket, when we hear the word alignment, we quickly think about new tires, suspension parts, steering, torque, ball joints, struts, bearings, shocks, springs, etc. Let us take a moment and probe the question: Is your business aligned? Which involves:
- Alignment of the elements of your business and your strategic plan
- Market strategy
- Long-term purpose
- Alignment of strategy and the organization structure
- Is there a strategic link between all functions: Finance, marketing, sales, operations, distribution, IT, and human resources?
Do the business plan and the annual goals and objectives of each key business function–align? And support your overall strategy? A key audit: are there conflicting objectives? For example: Finance and sales? Sales and customer service? Are the objectives interconnected?
To maintain strategic alignment, a company’s employees, culture, structure, and process have to flex, adapt, and react as the strategy itself shifts. Organization alignment manifests itself in much more than just superior financial performance. It creates a positive company culture, employee engagement, and a stronger sense of commitment. Without question, we all like to win — and reduce “turf wars” (can you relate?). Winning entails keeping your organization at all levels in “sync.”
Are your business strategy and objectives in line with the needs of your customers and your product offerings? A sustainable business balance can only be realized through the pursuit of alignment. The objective is to be true to your core value proposition, while making focused attempts to satisfy the demands of the marketplace.
As we travel on the business highway, we will without question hit potholes, which requires that we have our alignment checked and repaired. Potholes on our business journey are those issues that pop up and catch us by surprise, requiring adjustment and alignment. A strong, well thought-out strategy, realistic goals and objectives that are shared and understood at all levels of the organization, and a definable margin of error assist in navigating today’s bumpy business road!
The action to take is to acknowledge the need for alignment — and communicate that need! Align and assure the organization. Assurance takes confidence and credibility with employees, customers, and vendors. Embrace discomfort and focus on your vision. A clear vision helps to avoid potholes.
Enterprise alignment means winning through a tightly managed enterprise value chain that connects an organization’s purpose (why we do what we do and why we do it) to its business strategy. The organization’s value chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Is there a sense of agreement and cooperation among departments and a common cause?
Alignment starts with the key opinion leaders working together and championing the goals and objectives of the organization, to form a power coalition and work in rhythm with your strategic plan, annual business plan, quarterly reviews, and weekly team meetings. Clarifying goals and responsibilities is paramount, which fosters a true interdependence and supportive communication, which is the cornerstone of maximizing organization objectives.
Begin each meeting by reviewing:
- Quarterly priorities
- Key customer review
- Possible potholes to avoid
- Alignment required
- Developing a company rhythm and cadence to address change and success
- Communicate, communicate, communicate!
Organizational alignment creates unity and cohesion. Make it personal. Make your associates (employees) know that they are an integral part of the company, that their role is important, and that they matter, which will inspire them. Developing personal business goals that are aimed at the greater good of the company can and should be accurately measured, and milestones celebrated. Business and winning is a team sport!
Dr. John Passante is president and CEO of The Organizational Development Group, Inc. He has more than 35 years experience in human resources, sales and marketing, and organizational development. Passante’s book, “The Human Side, High Touch Leadership in a High Touch World,” is available for $19.50. Checks can be sent to: The Organizational Development Group. 10 Anoka Ave., Barrington, RI. 02806. There is no charge for postage.