C-Level Insights | Business Success Through Alignment

Assuming that a company has created the right leadership environment, its leaders can prosper by following two simple rules. Rule Number One: make sure your employees are aligned. What does this mean and how can your company achieve it?

The Baldridge model provides key answers. At one time, the Baldridge National Quality Award was considered a significant measure of a well-run company. Although winning it remains important, many business leaders have forgotten the importance of adopting best practices ever since the dot.com era.

The Baldridge model measures seven key areas of a business. One area tests an organization’s alignment and determines whether it operates with a closed feedback loop. In any corporation the adoption of best practices succeeds only when all members of the leadership team embrace them. In a small company it takes very few leaders to embrace the principles, which can be implemented painlessly when started early.

All of which leads us to define “alignment” as ensuring that individual objectives harmonize with those of executive management. The vital links that make this possible are the strategies behind the company’s objectives. By making these strategies clear and understandable to all employees, people can see how their individual objectives support those of the business.

The essence of a strategy is not the structure of a company’s products and markets, but the dynamics of its behavior.   — George Stalk, leader for strategic management in environments of high uncertainty

Don’t just bark, bite. Let’s say a dog food company’s objective is to be Number One in their industry. What does that mean? Since an objective must be measurable, let’s say that Number One is measured by revenue.

Now let’s imagine that a possible strategy would be acquiring two of their competitors, then merging their products under one brand. An alternative strategy could be to develop a new food based on a non-meat product for half the cost, then win business through lower pricing. Consequently, the management team must choose a strategy that their employees can follow in order to achieve the organization’s objective.

Naturally, the employees’ objectives will be very different under the two strategies. Regardless, if all the employees understand the call to action and know how to go about achieving it, they will combine their individual contributions to align themselves behind the strategy. Having participated in this process many times in my own career, I know that it works.

Like magnetism, alignment is a force. It coalesces and focuses an organization and moves it forward.  — George Labovitz, leader for organizational alignment and execution strategies

People in this kind of environment believe their management team has integrity because they have shared the plan from the start. Clearly articulated strategies help the leadership team establish their credentials and empower the employees. In turn, the employees see their contributions and feel empowered by the results. Consequently, employee satisfaction rises — which, as has been shown, increases customer satisfaction and leads to improved revenue performance. That’s why employee alignment is the first key rule for success.

As for simple Rule Number Two, the dog must be willing to eat the dog food.

By Steven Rogers, Principal, Redstones LLC