What is business alignment?
Business alignment is the process of making everyone in an organisation, across all levels, aware of a business' purpose and goals, ensuring they are focused on taking actions and making decisions to reach those goals.
Business alignment and getting an organisation to come together to achieve a single purpose has always been complicated, but probably never more so than today.
Brands, and employees, are being forced to reinvent themselves and how they do things in rapidly changing market conditions. Many will be working in ways they never have before, others will have rapidly increased the pace at which they introduced technology to enable people to work remotely.
But while current conditions have dictated the rate at which brands and organisations adapt to a more technology driven, inclusive, collaborative work methods it’s worth remembering that business alignment should be a key focus anyway.
To play on an old Christmas message - business alignment isn’t just for a crisis.
Business alignment is the basis for an effective workforce even in “normal” times.
Alignment is a business critical issue
Show me a brand or business leader who doesn’t think that it’s easier to find success when everyone has a clear understanding of their organisation’s purpose and is working towards a common set of goals.
Employees who are aligned with their employer’s vision naturally care more about their work because they understand where they’re heading and what they’re ultimately trying to achieve.
Without that business alignment, the team will be less clear about the overall direction and goals they’re working towards, and it also opens up the possibility for concern and apprehension if people feel like they don’t know what’s going on.
By failing to create a sense of common purpose, and being sure everyone is working towards it, organisations risk departments or teams veering off in their own direction and pulling the wider business off course.
Achieving business alignment
When it comes to business alignment, there are a few key things to know that your team want:
- Transparency across the company: No one likes feeling like they’re missing something. Especially when it comes to their job. People want to know what is going on. If nothing else, being “in the know” creates a better sense of security.
- Cross-team collaboration: Remember when every department worked in a silo? Marketers did marketing things. Sales did their thing. Finance made sure everyone got paid. Team members today don’t want to feel like they’re working in isolation. A State of Work report by Slack found that employees today value feeling part of a bigger team.
- Clearly defined responsibilities: Having clearly defined roles and responsibilities are important to teams for the simple reason that they help people understand and do the job they’re meant to, and lets them know who to pass relevant information onto.
- Open access to leadership: People at all levels of a business like to know what’s going on. Or at least like to know they are being kept as informed as they can be, especially during times of uncertainty. That’s why having open access to the business’ leadership team is a key part of business alignment. Not only does it make everyone feel like they are “in the know” and can talk to senior levels of the business, it greatly reduces the chance of a “them against us” mentality developing.
- Clear processes for who makes decisions: Much like knowing who is responsible for individual jobs, business alignment works best when everyone knows who the decision makers are. This isn’t so they know who to blame, it’s so everyone is clear on where they are getting direction from. If there is no clear leadership in place, individuals will try to step in and fill the gap and this can lead to mixed messages and silos developing which take companies off track.
Business alignment in times of change
Aligning business goals across an organisation (especially a large organisation) is difficult at the best of times. But when times are changing, it becomes even harder.
Obviously things have changed a lot in the last few months with COVID-19 and when the dust settles there will be more time taken to figure out where we are and where we’re heading.
But it’s not like times weren’t changing anyway and businesses of all kinds have been trying to adapt to change for years. Particularly when it comes to automation and how skill requirements are evolving.
In the next two years it is expected the average job will change by 42%, according to a Future of Jobs report published on weforum.
At the same time, demand for skills like analytical thinking, innovation, active learning, creativity, critical thinking and problem solving are on the rise.
Tomorrow’s companies are going to be built on these skills as more traditional, repetitive tasks get taken over by software and automation. Building inclusive workplace cultures, which promote the learning and use of new skills is going to be critical.
Business alignment has never been more important for organisations to succeed, let’s just hope they’re up for it.
If you're interested in finding out more about how to adapt to change and what you need to put that into practice, we recently hosted a joint webinar with Charlie HR.
Watch the recording below.