If your company or team is on a mission, it’s important that the team is aligned. When the members are on the same page, their steps in the right direction will accumulate, resulting in outsized progress on the goals and missions at hand. If outright impressive amounts of progress on your business objectives sounds far-fetched to you, perhaps aligning teams is exactly what your business needs.
What is Team Alignment?
Team alignment is a measure of how well a team and its resources converge upon a common goal, objective, or value. An aligned team is one where the individual team members are all on the same page, and a misaligned team is one where the reins are pulled in multiple directions.
In remote and hybrid work environments, misaligned teams can be difficult to spot, while in on-site teams, it’s much more evident. Regardless, aligned teams are necessary to efficiently accomplish an organization’s goals.
Why Does Team Alignment Matter?
Team alignment is important to make significant progress on team goals, company goals, and business objectives. This is because team alignment measures the abilities of each team member to understand and act on the goals and strategies prioritized by the company.
Aligned teams can expect to see many benefits because a group on the same page can accomplish much more. Here are some of the things team alignment can improve:
- Mutual understanding among team members
- Effective communication and cooperation
- Trust among team members
- Team member creativity
- Team morale
- Efficiency of work
If an efficient, creative, inspired, motivated, understanding, trusting, and communicative team is what you need to accomplish your business goals, then it’s imperative that you improve team alignment.
Who’s Responsible For Team Alignment?
Some may point the finger directly at the CEO or a similar figurehead on the responsibility for team alignment. However, the answer is not so simple. Sure, the CEO has a major responsibility in defining the direction of the company. Without this, the goals and values of the company may not be clear in the first place. However, there are other responsible parties when it comes to alignment.
For one, the management of the company, such as team leaders and middle management, have a major duty. They are responsible for divvying up the responsibilities and activities necessary for the goals to be met and assigning them to team members. They are the bridge between the CEO’s vision and each team member’s work. Without that connection, there can be no proper team alignment.
Similarly, it’s also important that the individual team members work to achieve alignment by communicating with their team leaders, fellow members, and any managers involved with their work. They should also do their best to produce work that aligns with the CEO’s vision and business objectives and building sustainable business practices.
So, in reality, the responsibility of achieving team alignment falls on the group as a whole. Every member of every team within the company plays a part in alignment, and it takes a cohesive group effort to meaningfully improve team alignment.
3 Signs of a Misaligned Team
The team or company regularly comes up short on timelines, goals, milestones, or deliverables.
Endless amounts of unnecessary emails are exchanged, meetings are held without purpose, and misunderstandings and confusion are commonplace.
Overworked and Under Accomplished
Members of the team complain about the amount of work they’ve had to do but have very little to show for it.
3 Signs of an Aligned Team
Every employee in the company understands and is capable of stating the company’s goals and mission.
The same literal language is spoken in most cases, and the type of communication is also shared. The communication between members is open, honest, and clear.
Every member of the team works towards the goals of the company in the same direction, not “attacking it from all angles.”
11 Methods of Aligning Teams
Communicate The Company Vision
If the CEO doesn’t make it clear to management what the company’s goals and vision are, they won’t be able to pass that message down to the team members. Making sure the vision gets from the top of the company down to every single member is necessary to ensure team alignment.
Use Objectives and Key Results to Make Employee’s Work Relevant to Big Picture Goals
Objectives and key results, or OKR, is a model that can be used to tie individuals’ work into the company goals. It involves breaking the overall goals of the company down to objectives each member has for themselves. Then, clear key results are put in place to let them know when they’ve achieved their goal or their piece of the overall goal.
Collaboration Over Competition
While fierce competition between colleagues has been a popular way to improve performance in the past and can work very well for team functions like sales, younger employees are less and less likely to enjoy this type of competition. Millennials prefer collaborative workplaces, and it seems likely that the trend will continue for Generation Z.
Celebrate Small Wins
Obviously, the average individual or small team’s accomplishments will not make the most profound impact on the company’s goals. Regardless, reward team wins with at least some recognition or celebration. After all, their work means a lot to them, and a bit of recognition goes a long way in boosting team morale.
Involve Teams in Planning
A great way to achieve better team alignment is to involve the front-line workers in the process of planning larger company goals. It will give them a sense of importance to the team while also allowing them to give input on what they think they bring to the table.
Invest in Good Team Alignment Tools
Useful tools like product management software and communication tools are invaluable to a team looking to improve communication and team alignment. They can make the vision for the product or service simpler and more clear while also offering avenues of efficient communication that decreases the amount of time communicating.
Define Clear Roles
Another great strategy to achieve team alignment is to have management define clear roles for each team and team member. This gives everybody a clear idea of what they can do to contribute to the completion of team goals.
Host Alignment Meetings
If you consider team alignment important, one of the most important things to do at the start of a new project is to have an alignment meeting. This doesn’t need to be extensive, just an opportunity to interact and determine the OKRs of the project and inform all members of the goals and objectives.
Review Processes Regularly and Document Changes
Team alignment is more than just a one-and-done process where once you have the team aligned, there’s no need to invest in it anymore. It’s more of a continual improvement of the team’s communication and goal-orientation skills. Therefore it’s a great idea to regularly review communication processes. This can help the team to identify outdated policies and processes as well as give an opportunity to revise and change them. Improved documentation should always be shared with the entire team to prevent unnecessary over-communication.
Have Regular One-on-One Meetings with Team Members
It’s important not to overdo this one, lest you fall into the over-communication pitfall. However, having semi-regular one-on-one meetings with members to ask them how their workloads are going and how their communication with the team has been can help achieve team alignment quickly. It can also give management a better idea of the strengths and weaknesses of each member, giving them an easier time delegating roles and responsibilities.
Cultivate a Growth Mindset
It’s important for team alignment that members of the team believe their abilities and talents can be developed and improved upon. This gives them a reason to soak up knowledge and apply it to develop new standards for working efficiently and consciously.