How to Align Teams Around Goals

How to Align Teams Around Goals
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Align Teams Around Goals to Better Execute Strategies
According to research by IBM, 9 out of 10 business plans fail to achieve strategic goals. When leaders do not align teams around goals, our own organizational alignment research found that business strategies are 50% less clear to employees than to leaders.

Until employees have a clear line of sight to how their work directly contributes to strategic priorities, believe they are empowered to achieve the desired results, and feel that the entire company is fully committed to accomplishing what matters most, they will knowingly or unknowingly slow or even impede effective implementation of business goals.

Where is the disconnect and what can we do about it?

Begin with Leadership
If you want to align teams around goals, the first step is to understand that effective strategy execution starts at the top. Strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing companies. Not only must your strategy outline clear and compelling choices about where to play and what actions to take; but it must also be understood, believable, and implementable enough to all key stakeholders responsible for executing it.

You need to test and re-test for understanding of all stakeholders and for clarity of individual and team roles. To align teams around goals, there should be active involvement of key stakeholders in the strategy design process early and often to ensure your teams are all pulling in the same direction.

Mistakes to Avoid if You Want to Align Teams Around Goals
Once underway, leaders need to be careful not to make the following leadership mistakes that could potentially derail their efforts to align teams around goals:

  1. Lack of Effective Performance Measures
    Effective team goals and accountabilities are clear, simple, few, understood, believable, just possible, meaningful, fulfilling, and relevant.  A long list, but each attribute is important if you want metrics to create positive performance pressure.   If any element is perceived to be misaligned or weak by your team, the chances for complacency, disengagement, and conflict increases.

    Whatever you were trying to achieve, you need to regularly measure progress, share results, and make adjustments to stay on track.
  2. Lack of Timely Action
    Yes, it’s important to discuss options, gather information, and ensure people are onboard, but delayed decision making creates frustration, disengagement, and missed opportunities.   Smart leaders follow decision making training best practices by:

    – clarifying the decision to be made
    – articulating the desired outcomes
    – following a consistent and flexible decision making process
    – defining effective decision-making criteria and success metrics
    – unlocking stakeholder and team commitment
    – acting decisively and avoiding common decision making traps and cognitive biases
    – communicating decisions for greater commitment and buy-in
  3. Micro-Management
    Teams will be far more engaged to lift their performance to achieve key strategies if they feel they have some control over how they reach their strategic objectives. In your efforts to control outcomes, do not eliminate team autonomy. Give your teams some latitude in how they deliver.

    Do not micromanage your teams.  Give your teams an opportunity to be inspired to stretch beyond basic expectations. They will be much more motivated to do so.
  4. Lack of Follow-Through
    Perhaps the hardest aspect of a workplace change initiative is keeping at it as obstacles arise and circumstances shift. You simply cannot give up on the effort nor on the discipline required.

    Be patient, encouraging, and steadfast while, at the same time, reminding your teams of the reason you undertook the desired changes in the first place.

The Bottom Line
Strategic goals are achieved when leaders know how to inspire and align their teams to perform at their peak. Be clear, be ready to act, and report, inspire and sustain measurable progress.

To learn more about how to create leadership team alignment, download The Top Skills for High Performing Leaders

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