Organizational Alignment: People, Purpose, and Productivity

Getting everyone on the proverbial “same sheet of music” in an organization is the process of gaining organizational alignment. The effort to align can be equated to an orchestra learning a new arrangement. When everyone has the right music for their respective instrument – their organizational role – progress towards alignment can occur. The resulting sound – the organizational performance – can be exceptional when everyone plays their part in harmony with the other members.

Organizations large and small must confront the same human resource design and investment challenges in ensuring that their people:

  • effectively understand the organization’s values and mission,
  • know their role within the organization, and
  • are trained and empowered to fulfill that role.

These key attributes signify coherence in an organization. The more fully established and recognized these elements are the stronger the organizational alignment. These characteristics are at the core of determining whether or not an organization can sustain effective and efficient performance over time.

There are several lenses through which to consider alignment and its impact, including business goals and cost factors, the slope of the vertical or horizontal management structure, authority and span of control, and other organizational design concerns. Regardless of which optic you use to assess alignment, at the center of any organization’s performance will be the matter of how well its people are being employed, engaged, and empowered to effectively advance established goals and objectives. This lens reveals the alignment of people, purpose, and productivity.

Organizations that invest in fostering a culture of inclusion and communication aimed at encouraging workforce development, and the professional power of their people, improve their opportunity to perform well over time. Alignment of people and purpose requires getting everyone in the organization on that same sheet of music – working with mutual commitment to advance the organization’s vision, mission, and goals. How well this is accomplished will define how productive the organization can expect to be.

Forging and sustaining organizational alignment is no easy task, but one that is profoundly important and worth the on-going commitment at all levels – from the leadership to the new hire. The aforementioned culture should reflect the values and focus of the organization and illustrate how workers are key to maintaining a positive workplace climate that supports the entire enterprise.

There are three important actions that will contribute to gaining and maintaining the organizational alignment of people and purpose to achieve high productivity:

1.  Ensure that a thorough and introspective strategic assessment has been done for the organization. This vital strategic design investment should identify, inform, and underscore the organization’s values, vision, mission, and goals – all of which should be readily known and promoted throughout the organization.

Strategic thinking and outcomes should not be mysterious – they should be stated in plain language, to the point, and easy to understand and share throughout the organization. This is not a C-suite exercise but rather a holistic action to make the strategic message clear, concise, and compelling – for everyone.

2.  Ensure that a comprehensive “on-boarding program” is actualized and actively monitored that embraces each new employee and informs them about the organization’s values and priorities, as determined by and maintained in the above strategic design effort. A dynamic on-boarding program will plant the seeds of iterative and sustained success in furthering the organization’s culture.

The benefits of an on-boarding program will be evident over the long-term as new employees start-out more fully informed with tools to aid in their success. This must be much more than providing an organizational chart and map of the break rooms and exits. This is the professional “welcome wagon”. Make people glad to be there, well-informed, and eager to get to work and contribute to the organization’s culture of success.

3.  Ensure that the leadership and managerial members are committed to modeling the best of the organization’s expectations – they must be the culture that is desired and intended. This is the all-important “talking the talk and walking the walk”.

Sustained organizational success will be undermined, if not extinguished, if the leadership isn’t sincere and prepared to go the distance. The leadership must set the tone and be consistent in their adherence to the organizational ethos and climate. Nothing is more convincing than conviction.

At the end of the day, how well an organization realizes alignment of people and purpose will directly correlate to success or failure over time. If done well, remarkable outcomes can be attained and sustained. The organizational orchestra will make remarkably productive music.

 Steve Wischmann

President/CEO

Horizon Performance Solutions, LLC

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