Organisational Alignment: From an intangible to a tangible process
Companies of all sizes stand to benefit from ensuring that they are aligned from top to bottom but larger organisations, in particular, often find this challenging. A failure to deliver strong organisational alignment means missing out on several benefits.
Strong organisational alignment, a key responsibility for management, HR and IC, lays the groundwork for strong organisational health . Organisational health is central to a company’s ability to grow. It depends on and informs the engagement of customers, employees, and other stakeholders. It’s been shown that there is a direct link between good organisational health and company performance. On average, highly aligned companies grow revenue 58% faster and are 72% more profitable than their misaligned peers. Alignment also brings benefits in terms of employee engagement, retention, and productivity.
What is Organisational Alignment?
Organisational Alignment is defined as ‘the process of implementing strategies and philosophies to ensure that each member of an organisation, from entry-level positions to executive managers, shares a common goal and vision for the success of an organisation.’
The reality is that many organisations struggle with organisational alignment. Research shows that an incredible 63% of employees don’t have a clear understanding of their company’s vision. Perhaps more worrying, only 28% of executives and middle managers responsible for executing a company’s strategy are able to name three of their organisation’s strategic priorities. Evidently, the strategy, culture, and goals aren’t being conveyed effectively. This lack of organisational alignment can be particularly severe in companies with larger workforces.
Organisational alignment is a vital objective - and an achievable one with today’s technology - if businesses take account of three fundamental principles:
- It is a process, not a project
- Deliver an integrated employee experience
- Pursue data-driven insights & data-informed decision-making
Organisational Alignment - A process rather than a project
One of the main reasons that organisational alignment is unsuccessful is the result of a failure to recognise it as a continuous process - not a one-off project. Alignment needs constant adjustment given changing circumstances and organisational dynamics. In the words of Harvard Business Review , “To maintain strategic alignment, a company’s people, culture, structure and processes have to flex and change as the strategy itself shifts.”
We argue that seeing alignment as a project grossly underestimates the complexity and dynamics within an organisation, as well as the way people process information in their daily work. Context and perceptions continuously change and assumptions are tested daily, mainly during interactions with other people. Organisational alignment, therefore, depends on different interpretations of information and varying levels of understanding in a company as they relate to an organisation’s wider strategy. Think about a picture displaying the number six. Or is it a nine? This all depends on the viewer’s perspective.
So rather than seeing organisational alignment as a one-off communication or leadership project where employees are made aware of the current strategy and culture, it is far more powerful if you see it as a continuous process - a process that captures changing perspectives and supports and feeds individual employees with content and information which is relevant to them and addresses their needs, assumptions and expectations on a more continuous basis.
With today’s technology, it is possible to change organisational alignment from a top-down, expert/model-driven project to a data-informed, individualised ongoing process. With smart conversational technology, for example, it is possible to conduct an individualised and (over time) deepening conversation at scale. All the conversational data is clustered in an unbiased way in seconds to find fact-based employee personas. Every persona is a fact-based profile of a group of employees with comparable needs, insights and expectations. This helps Leadership, HR and Internal Communication to see the humans behind the data and create relevant communications, addressing what is factually relevant to the organisation.
Integrated employee experience
Employees frequently complain about all the apps, sources, sheets, applications they have to manage. They don’t see the wood for the trees, making it sensible, even rational, to retreat to one’s own tasks. To prevent misalignment from undermining your long-term company health, it is crucial that all employees and managers can access a single, integrated place where all the dots are connected. A place where collective organisational information creates a healthy framework around individual - and team work, and where both can be developed within a collective context.
Employees thrive when they can work from a central, integrated space which connects, engages and empowers them, giving them the opportunity to easily send, receive, and search for important information (both top-down and bottom-up), share knowledge, collaborate and link to the work applications that are most important to them. And at the same time, grants them the opportunity to give feedback and share their needs, insights and expectations.
Data-driven insights & data-informed decision making
Once an organisation has decided on a centralised platform, further advantages can be acquired that strengthen organisational alignment. Data and insights can help realise this alignment in tandem with a central hub. This makes it easier for businesses to collect information on business drivers like knowledge sharing, collaboration and engagement. And, for example, the above-mentioned personas will support data-informed decision-making by leadership, HR and IC personnel using relevant content and messaging. But analytics will help you to go one step further. With smart analytics, the centralised platform will calculate, in an unbiased and fact-based way, the most important priorities for departments and teams to make improvements and progress. Modern technology supporting data-driven and data-informed decision-making helps you avoid anecdotal evidence and biased opinions, and work on what is needed most in your organisation.
How Plek can help unlock the social intranet of the future
The Plek (which means ‘Place’ in Dutch) platform is an integrated communication and alignment platform helping organisations to align faster and better. Get in touch with us today to discover how Plek can ensure that everyone in your organisation is on the same page.