26th June 2017
How to align your organisational culture with strategic goals
Strategically, you’re doing everything by the book. The pieces are in place and the wheels are turning. But, something just isn’t working. For some reason you aren’t getting the results you were hoping for.
Many leaders find themselves in this position. Often a closer look will reveal a lack of team alignment with strategic goals, or a misalignment between the business strategy and the wider organisational culture.
Does the problem stem from the top?
When alignment amongst the senior leadership team doesn’t exist, behavioural goals are knocked out of whack and results fall by the wayside; eliminating a sense of shared purpose among employees..
We all know that underperformance can turn into a vicious cycle – teams don’t achieve their benchmarks and managers look incompetent. As result they become increasingly frustrated and place a greater amount of pressure on staff, leading to even worse performance. This cycle can sap the motivation of even the most talented teams and will drag your KPIs down.
On the other hand, the positive influence that executives have on your organisation can be profound, which is why a strategic realignment among senior leaders will see teams investing more of their time and talent into meeting and exceeding organisational goals.
So how do you get there? What are the steps required to ensure alignment between strategy and the people executing it — both within a leadership team and organisation wide?
How to enable organisational alignment with strategic goals
1. Establish your ‘why’
Leaders spend a lot of their time communicating their goals, processes and results, yet little to no time goes into understanding their collective ‘why’. A clearly established ‘why’ will allow leaders to get on the same page and effectively build a lasting organisational culture.
Once your leadership team is aligned on a shared company purpose and vision, the entire organisation can rally behind them. You’ll no longer rely solely on KPIs and revenue metrics to motivate and empower teams, and consequently they’ll feel connected to something much bigger.
2. Align performance management with strategy and culture
An agreed upon ‘why’ should become the foundation for all decisions that relate to building your organisational culture. Leaders and managers can work towards defining the results necessary for achieving this vision.
A good practice here is transparent communication from senior leaders about the vision, which keeps employees actively involved in the broader discussions.
Conducting an audit of organisation wide performance, goals and behaviours will help you determine where there is room for realignment and education. You may find that goals need to be revisited and redefined.
3. Make your teams accountable with performance check-ins
Remember to have regular check-ins to confirm your direction, as priorities will often shift and leaders need to be adaptable. The key here is to make sure there’s agreement between all executives about the shift in priorities — otherwise teams will sense an unclear direction from the top, and chaos will ensue.
Try empowering a team leader to ‘own’ an outcome so they feel responsible for its success, while ensuring team members feel accountable for helping drive the outcome. Ensure teams share information on their progress with each other, and publish a list of roles so that everyone knows who to ask about a particular topic.
4. Implement behavioral and cultural smart goals
We suggest breaking down your behavioural and cultural vision into smart goals. Think about how your cultural vision should affect your team’s behaviour. Can you help align individual behaviour with your cultural goals?
A potential roadblock when aligning employees with the company vision
It’s important that everyone on your team feels the same way about your strategic goals and vision. If someone doesn’t, don’t panic. Set a time to go through their individual goals and discuss their fit with the organisational culture. In some cases it may result in setting new KPIs or considering a role change within the organisation.
During other times, you may – unfortunately – conclude that there isn’t a good fit between the employee and the broader vision. In such cases, appropriate steps to rectify the situation may need to be taken.
One of the best ways to ensure that your staff share your vision is to bring people onboard whose goals are already aligned with your culture and strategy. Identifying a good fit in the interview process is a great way to start, so we’ve put together a handy guide to working out if a candidate is aligned with your goals.; Top 10 questions to ask during executive interviews.