Why your leadership team must be aligned – and how to get there
Team alignment is not just a ‘nice to have’ – not when you appreciate the benefits it can bring
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According to research, organisations with high levels of alignment are more likely to exceed revenue goals. Poorly-aligned organisations are associated with slower growth, and, according to McKinsey research, lower returns on invested capital.
To align your organisation, it all starts at the top. The importance of having a leadership team that is united in its goals, values, and purpose cannot be overstated. After all, if the leadership team is not aligned on the directional strategy of the organisation, how can everyone else be?
As many companies continue to discover the advantages and limitations of hybrid working, achieving team alignment is arguably harder now than before the pandemic – and yet it remains crucial to delivering the organisation’s strategic goals effectively.
What does team alignment look like?
Team meetings are smooth-sailing, and members appear to agree on their plans for the organisation. But don’t be fooled into thinking this is what a truly aligned team looks like. In a truly aligned team, each member is aware of and has embraced the organisation’s strategic goals and vision. Individuals must agree on the organisation’s strategic goals and how resources will be utilised to achieve those goals. There should also be awareness of how each strategic goal relates to their personal goals.
To align a team successfully, organisations should not underestimate the importance of psychological safety and building a culture in which every team member feels valued, supported, and included. Team members need to feel they can ask questions and raise queries and that any issues or challenges they experience are addressed for there to be organisational progress.
Team leaders have an important role to play in creating a psychologically safe culture for employees and laying the foundation for team alignment.
How to achieve team alignment
Transforming a team is no easy feat, and it is an ongoing process to maintain team alignment, but the results will pay off.
Team assessment, followed by leadership development and coaching where necessary, is an effective way to achieve team alignment.
In some organisations, the pandemic has prompted a rethink of the purpose of leadership teams. The insights an assessment can reveal, given that assessments can focus on both individual team members and the team collectively, are valuable to help create alignment.
Using individual and group assessments to guide team alignment strategies can be especially useful for organisations currently operating a hybrid working model. Fewer opportunities for in-person communication may have made it harder to keep teams on the same page, while having to adapt to new and more agile ways of working.
- Identify the strengths and weaknesses of individuals
- Measure the behaviours of individuals and identify critical areas of development
- Provide data and insights to help drive development, team cohesion and trust and, in turn, decision making
- Support the development of an action plan to ensure the team is aligned and individual strengths are leveraged
A 360 assessment can also provide further insights into individual team members, where their strengths are and where behaviours may be at risk of undermining efforts to align the team.
At LHH, we provide a range of assessment solutions that can be integrated with any talent management strategy you have in place. When it comes to assessment and team alignment,
we refer to a research-based trichotomy of team enhancement model to support organisations in aligning teams.
The team enhancement model, informed by assessment, focuses on the following core concepts:
- Belonging – how effective is the team at creating a psychologically safe environment? It includes exploring team culture, and if there is an awareness among team members as to what is working (enhancers) and not working (diminishers).
- Purpose – is the team aligned on its shared purpose? Are individual mindsets clear on what the priorities, values and vision are of the organisation? Any gaps can then be identified and addressed.
- Agility – this focuses on developing skills and behaviours that drive performance through more agile ways of working.
In practice, teams go on a journey through a series of facilitated events, with each event focused on a different concept. The aim is to address issues with a view to improving a team’s overall effectiveness. Through exploring a team’s purpose and defining that purpose in line with strategic goals and building a shared mentality, team members can become more aligned.
In this, it is important to understand your team and the personalities at work and to help everyone build greater self-awareness. Aim to create a climate of safety where every team member feels supported. Given that the leadership team sets the tone for the wider organisation, it is important to make sure they work well as a unit – this is key to team alignment success.