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When organizational alignment fails in a hybrid world and how to fix it

Tom Wright, CEO & Founder - Cascade

Organizational alignment is broken. Hybrid work models have been a buzzword for the past two years and by now, we should’ve seen mission-driven employees and businesses on track with their yearly goals. 

Instead, we have misaligned teams, no connection between daily activities and the vision, and close-to-zero visibility on what’s going on at all levels. Employees feel frustrated and disconnected from the leadership’s vision. 

To avoid this strategy disconnect and improve organizational alignment, giving up on the hybrid work model isn’t a choice. The majority of enterprises cannot consider going fully remote. And by the looks of it, they cannot bring everyone back to the office without risking losing valuable team members. 

With so much riding on alignment, businesses need to rethink how to engage employees and improve visibility on how their work impacts the bigger picture. Rather than viewing this as an art, it’s a science requiring a systematic process. 

So how can enterprises foster alignment while juggling multiple work modes? 

It’s time to ditch the old way: Re-defining organizational alignment in a hybrid world
Organizational alignment starts with the strategy planning process. And when you keep this process as the private reserve of business leadership, the outcome is a tone-deaf mess. It ends up distilled so far from its origins that it’s unrecognizable. As a result, employee engagement nosedives and performance suffers because people don’t know what they should do and become less interested in making an effort.

Instead of keeping your strategy in boardrooms, include employees in all its stages. Every individual’s role and contribution must support the business goals and strategy to accomplish alignment. There’s no better way to achieve this than keeping your teams exposed to strategy at all times and not just once per year on that 3-hour long Zoom call. 

Alignment, at its core, is about working smarter, shifting the focus from quantity to the quality of work. By fostering alignment, employers benefit, as do employees who are more engaged and feel more fulfilled knowing that they are directly impacting the business.

How to align personal and organizational goals
You make strategy everyone’s business. 

Leaders should be setting a framework that allows individual teams to create their own strategy. By doing so, their business goals and aspirations will reflect their personal values. Not from someone from the top. If you achieve this, it won’t matter whether your team is fully remote, or in a hybrid work model. The organizational alignment will simply work as it will have a place in your team’s daily tasks. 

There are two steps to facilitate this change and create a functional work environment: 

  • Exposure and engagement

If employees are not engaged, it’s unlikely you will be able to achieve alignment. Provide everyone with access to strategy at all times. Expose them daily or people will revert to their own agenda. Build a forum where they can input and provide feedback on plans and their execution. 

  • Inclusivity and ownership

Include employees in all levels of strategy and assign ownership. They are essential for your business success, so give them the power to get things done, iterate, and keep track of the goals. For example, those employees in customer-facing roles have far more clarity and understanding of customers’ needs and pain points than the executive team. Therefore, they need to be empowered to make decisions that support the overarching business direction—it’s important to provide them with the power and the necessary information to make the right choices. 

How to measure organizational alignment
The simple truth is that if you don’t track your efforts, you’ll struggle to deliver the best outcomes. You’ll let your strategy down and you’ll let your team down.

The traditional approach of quarterly reviews doesn’t suffice in today’s workplace as you are looking at the past. Instead, you need a mechanism to capture the present to measure the current state of alignment.

To take the leap from stale data to real-time insights, you should look for a technology solution that helps connect the business goals and allows employees to view, understand, and track their progress. It’s the only way to retire outdated market signals and adapt fast enough to thrive in all conditions. 

Organizational alignment has never been more critical, and businesses must modernize how they approach it. Without alignment, no company or employee can realize their potential and achieve their vision.

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