A good company culture is what makes people happy to come to work in the morning. It’s also a leading factor that contributes to employee satisfaction. But there’s another reason to have an aligned company culture, and it has to do with your company’s goals.
Why is Cultural Alignment Important?
A Towers & Watson paper published this summer suggests that successful firms are the ones who recognize culture as an important asset. Ultimately, it creates value for the organization, beyond attracting and retaining talent. The research was done on asset management firms, but the general idea applies across all verticals — that when you align your people with company culture, there’s a positive impact on business performance. In that light, it’s easier to see why it should be considered an asset — intangible, yes, but an asset nevertheless.
But knowing you should nurture and respect company culture isn’t the same as working to build one. You can’t simply define your culture, write a vision statement, and wait for the good times to roll. You have to focus your energies on taking all the necessary steps to bring this alignment into place.
In every workplace, there’s a set of values. People who work there share some fundamental beliefs about the world and what constitutes success. The values that they share what defines your company culture. When the company undergoes change — such as a new phase of development or even new software — the employees who don’t align with company culture are less productive.
Here are five things you can do for your organization to help build a culture that aligns with business objectives.
5 Things You Can do to Align Your Team With your Strategic Business Goals
There are lots of things you can do to help align company culture, strategic goals, and the people who work within your organization. Yet, despite years of research spanning decades, showing evidence to the contrary, there are some misconceptions that persist in the business world, causing too many people to think that culture can’t be managed.
Here’s what today’s successful teams and leaders are implementing to achieve better three-way alignment in their organizations.
1. Focus on Internal Communications
Almost three in four persons have FOMO at work, according to a survey that also suggests that most of them don’t even really get their company’s vision or long-term goals. With a good communications platform in place, managers can begin to build a strong infrastructure for fighting that FOMO! It will not only help keep those team members from missing company news and other important information, it’s great for building synergy. And when there’s synergy, you have a much better chance at building the alignment we’re talking about.
2. Learn the Signs of Misalignment in Your Workplace
If you can’t recognize the problem, it’s hard to know how to fix it. If anything on the following list sounds familiar at your organization, that could mean there’s something you could be doing to facilitate alignment. Learn to look out for these signs:
- Employees are confused
- Your retention rates are low
- Attracting top talent to your company is difficult
- Company members don’t feel empowered at work
- Business goals are not getting communicated clearly
- Teams don’t perform well and people aren’t very productive
- Project managers have too many obstacles to overcome
- Hardly anyone goes the extra mile at work to achieve common goals together
3. Communicate Company Goals Clearly
When collaborators feel they understand company goals, it’s going to be easier for them to align with them. One study reports alarmingly high rates of confusion around business goals. 95% don’t fully understand them, in one oft-cited Harvard Business Review study. Although it’s an old study, even half that rate should be cause for alarm in the C-Suite.
Leaders can make significant headway in increasing understanding of company goals if they communicate those goals clearly and effectively. That means use several different channels of media, maintain communications frequently and keep them easily digestible. Use a platform or app with good UX, and where everyone feels comfortable contributing to the discussion. Having face-to-face meetings may not be feasible in a company that has thousands of employees, so a good web-based application can really bring the message home to a lot of people. It also helps when you have workers in the field or remote workers, who also need help understanding business goals. For this any other reasons, a mobile-first communications platform is a good idea. That way, the members who travel or who work remotely can tap into the company groove, too.
4. Recruit, Attract, and Hire People Who are a Good Fit
From the type of recruitment ad you write to the questions you ask candidates during job interviews, it’s important to look beyond qualifications and skills. This is when you should be thinking about what kind of fit the person will make in the position they’re being considered for.
Who’s the ideal candidate? Well it’s hard to say but when they share a passion for evolving the company forward along its strategic journey, that’s always a plus. That shows alignment and a set of shared values that denote a good fit with company cultures.
5. Pay Attention to Leaders in Your Organization, Too
You can attract great talent, help them understand business goals, and develop a great company culture that supports your business goals. But if your leaders aren’t aligned too, then that’s going to slow things down as far as benefiting from an aligned culture goes.
Just one toxic leader can make motivation dry up faster than a poor internet connection. Given enough time to work their ill effects, the bad vibes and increased tension can destroy the fabric of even the strongest of company cultures.
Managing company culture and achieving alignment isn’t easy, and it’s not something you do in a week — or a month or even a year. It starts with knowing what your business strategy is in the first place. Connecting that to company culture and then getting everyone on board well, that can take time.
We suggest following the example of companies who’ve obviously made those connections come true: define your culture, communicate your goals, and empower your employees by helping them understand — and align with— both.