Misalignment Is Killing Your Growth? Follow This Framework to Align Your Company
If you’ve ever watched rowing, you know that the team that rows the best together wins. The same concept applies to any team sport and equally to any organization.
In order to win, you need complete alignment among the members.
Alignment means that everyone in the organization, from the leaders down to the front line, understands the company strategy and knows how their actions contribute to the overarching priorities. And it all starts with the leadership team.
Signs of misalignment
|Misaligned companies…||Aligned companies…|
|Can’t hit the targets||Consistently execute and reach their targets|
|Lack of accountability and |
rely on blames and excuses
|Have clear accountability|
|Micromanage their employees||Support self-governance and autonomous decision-making|
|Have too many priorities||Focus on a few, committed priorities|
|Have disengaged employees||Have actively engaged employees|
Lack of alignment among the company leaders can be a source of great frustration for employees as they are pulled in different directions. Even small discrepancies and misalignments between leadership team members can be a big blow to employees’ performance and engagement level. And though most leaders recognize the importance of creating alignment, they often credit bad behavior or attitude for lack of it.
The first step in creating organizational alignment is defining your company strategy.
Defining your company strategy
Strategic planning and defining company purpose and mission is a popular topic that has been discussed in great length, and we will not bore you with all the background. You probably already know most of it.
What is important to note here is that you need clarity around your strategy mainly because you need to focus your resources and energy on a playing field that gives you the greatest chance to win. When your strategy is defined (and communicated) with clarity, everyone within the company can use it as an anchor and a filter to make the right decisions.
“Strategy is only as good as your ability to articulate it, and clarity is an essential part of good leadership.” – Bob Iger, former CEO of Walt Disney Compoany
In order to define your company’s strategy with clarity, you need to start by answering four foundational questions and define your playing field.
There are four questions that we have adapted from Patrick Lencioni’s The Advantage, which are universal and have been discussed in one way or another in other great business books. These four foundational questions will help you get clarity around your company and get on the same page:
1. Why do we exist?
This is your company’s underlying reason for being, and it is completely idealistic. Everyone within your company needs to know at the heart of what they do lies something grand and aspirational. Ask yourselves this question and keep asking “why” over and over again until the true purpose is found.
2. How do we behave?
The set of core values that guide your behaviors and decisions over time, preserving the company’s essence. These are the few (just two or three) behavioral traits that are inherent in an organization. Core values lie at the heart of the company’s identity, do not change over time, and must already exist.
3. What do we do?
The simplest question. The answer is not idealistic whatsoever and is nothing more than a description of what the company does.
4. How will we succeed?
What sets you apart from others. What are the key differentiating pillars that put you in a unique position to win. This is very much the core of your company’s strategy.
- Share these questions with your leadership team and answer them individually first.
- Get together and discuss your answers as a group and understand each other’s perspectives.
- After every answer has been unpacked, discuss what would your unified answers be to each question. The most important thing is to get on the same page on your final answers to these questions as a group and be fully committed to them.
Download the Company Vision & Identity worksheet (and examples) here to define your Foundational Four™.
Your LynchPyn Goal defines the key winning aspiration for your business in the next year. This is where you decide what the overarching, most critical objective is and what battle you want to win. With your LynchPyn Goal, you are committing to a goal that is most important right now.
A LynchPyn Goal can be really anything, depending on what is going on at the moment; it might be to grow revenue, reduce costs, or bring on investment. It is the one goal that will have the greatest impact on the success of the company.
There is no right answer; what’s critical is that every organization has an answer. The LynchPyn Goal is the single, most effective tool you can leverage to create organizational alignment; it’s a strategic priority that helps everyone in the company rally and see their job and actions as doing something in common with others. No one would put their own personal or departmental needs ahead of that goal because they are rowing in the same boat as others. It also provides everyone with a single, common destination to course-correct and realign whenever things start to fall out of sorts.
- Singular: There should only be one LynchPyn Goal at any given point in time. Your people can’t align when there are two or more LynchPyn Goals that are equally important.
- Shared: Everyone in the leadership team and their teams, by extension, should share the LynchPyn Goal regardless of the hat they wear and be committed to doing their part, even if it means supporting others.
- Aspirational: Reading the LynchPyn Goal should tell a story and provoke an emotional response for everyone in the company. They should feel excited and empowered.
- Temporary: As mentioned, a LynchPyn Goal should be focused on the next 3-12 months. Anything beyond a year seems so far away that it doesn’t engage the people right at this moment.
These are examples of LynchPyn Goals from some organizations to help you understand how it works, and keep in mind these aren’t necessarily current goals.
- YouTube: Reach 1 billion hours of watch time per day
- Pfizer: Develop a safe COVID-19 vaccine
- McDonald’s: Reposition the menu for more health-conscious consumers
- Get together with your leadership team and discuss “What is the most important thing, right now?” without feeling the pressure to come to an immediate decision.
- Capture the suggested ideas and group similar items together. Often these are more tactical ideas and not an overarching strategic goal.
- Explore each group of ideas as a group and ask yourself why it is important and the overarching goal it would achieve. Keep asking why until you feel you’ve reached the core of it.
- Having gone through this, it should be evident to everyone in the room what is the most important overarching goal.
- If you are still having a hard time recognizing your LynchPyn Goal, you might be simply overthinking it. A trusted outside point of view typically helps at this stage.
- Write the LynchPyn Goal in a way that satisfies its key characteristics.
The two exercises mentioned in this section are practices you should include in your strategic planning process and go through at least once a year, even perhaps revisiting them quarterly to make sure it’s accurate and well-articulated.
Achieve alignment through consistent communication of strategy
This may seem obvious, but to actually align your team and company, you have to communicate (and perhaps overcommunicate) your Foundational Four and LynchPyn Goal in a continuous, consistent manner.
The key to effective communication and creating alignment is shifting your perspective of strategy communication from an event that happens once every year or quarter to an ongoing practice that happens all the time and in many different ways. Having a PDF attached to your “All Staff” email once a year is not quite sufficient.
Here are a few communications approaches that will help you effectively communicate your strategy with your employees, create alignment around the organizational strategy, and deliver results.
1. Make it public and top of mind
Your business strategy should be publicly communicated and readily accessible to everyone in the company. It often helps to have a primary way of sharing your strategy. Still, everyone consumes information in different ways, and it’s useful to communicate strategy through a few different mediums to make sure your messages reach everyone.
Using a centralized source of truth that communicates your strategy in an easy-to-understand, visual manner will help your people internalize the business strategy. LynchPyn offers a home for your strategy that is always visible to your employees and makes it easy for them to understand it:
2. Repeat, repeat, repeat
It can’t be stressed enough, but repetition is key. Repetition is often the difference between knowing and being left in the dark. The reality is that you need to communicate your strategy consistently, repeatedly, and with clarity to create alignment. That’s why we recommend to our clients to review their Foundational Four™ and LynchPyn Goal™ before every team meeting. It helps reiterate the message and, at the same time, ground everyone in the right context before any decision is made.
3. Promote using it as a decision-making anchor
One of the key benefits of having a clearly defined strategy is that it will act as a filter and a decision-making anchor when an issue arises. You and your executive team are already leveraging this because you know your strategy by heart, but do your employees? Promoting your strategy as a tool and an anchor that everyone can leverage to prioritize better and make better decisions daily will improve alignment and reinforce cohesive company culture.
Articulating your strategy and communicating it is hard. You already know how important your people are to your business’s success and aligning them on company strategy and priorities is the first step in setting them up for success.
Download the Company Vision & Identity worksheet (and examples) here to define your Foundational Four™.
We built LynchPyn to help companies capture and communicate their strategy, create alignment, and bridge the gap between strategy and day-to-day execution. I want you to ask yourself one question; How much do I value helping my employees internalize our strategy and make decisions based on it every day? If you think improving alignment and performance is a worthwhile investment for you and your company, request access to LynchPyn and join our Early Access Program today.