Posted by: integraladvisors | July 13, 2012

A Delicate Balancing Act: Organizational Alignment

Every organization faces a delicate balancing act: How do you align the objectives of the organization, with the capabilities of the management team, and the needs of the employees…while taking care of the customers?

It is the most common question I have wrestled with over the last 20 years as I have worked with hundreds of organizations to help them achieve the results and sense of well-being they desire.

Where there is alignment – things work well: stuff gets done and folks feel good.

Where there is not alignment – things don’t work well: stuff does not get done and folks feel lousy.

The three main tools or methods that organizations have available to them to create this desired alignment is Strategic Planning, Team Building and Leadership Development.

In its simplest terms – in order to have alignment – you need the following:

  • The organization needs to know where it is today and where it is going in the future; it needs a vision and a plan to achieve that vision.
  • The management team needs to get along and have the ability to lead the organization toward that vision by executing the plan; there needs to be a shared sense of trust, respect and collaboration.
  • All employees need to feel valued and excited about coming to work; there needs to be genuine growth opportunities and recognition for all employees.

This is a delicate balancing act that is easy to understand but difficult to attain.

My experience has taught me that most organizations fail to achieve the necessary degree of organizational alignment because they make one (and usually both) of the following mistakes:

  • They overly focus on one of the three areas (strategic planning, team building, or leadership development) to the exclusion of the others, rather than treating them as an integrated whole.
  • Whatever effort is committed to achieving organizational alignment is treated as an event rather than an ongoing process.

The first mistake results in the “balloon syndrome”; you squeeze a balloon in one area and the air (the problem) pops out somewhere else. For example, what is initially believed to be a team issue is really an unresolved strategic direction and leadership issue.

The second mistake results in a lack of persistence and consistency, or what is referred to as a lack of “constancy to purpose”. Once-a-year, or sporadic attempts to address organizational alignment fail, in many cases causing more harm than good because they give the illusion of real change, raising hopes that are ultimately dashed as leadership’s attention wanes.

In future blog posts I will dive deeper into each of these methods of creating organizational alignment and share with you the fundamentals of effective strategic planning, team building and leadership development, so as a business leader in your organization you can begin the journey of achieving your personal, team and organizational goals; the delicate balancing act of performance and well-being.


Responses

  1. I really appreciate the insightful information you provide. Your analogy about the balloon makes a lot of sense. I look forward to reading your future blogs.

  2. […] at A Delicate Balancing Act: Organizational Alignment « Integral […]


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