There are more than a couple leaders out there who believe their work is mostly taken care of once they have hired qualified and decent people to work for them. This is an immensely important step to be certain – without it, there would be no solid foundation for the company to grow on. However, it is also an incredibly shortsighted approach to running a business. Sports teams are a great example here. When players agree to play for a team, they sign a contract binding them to that organization. But just because an organization signs many talented players does not mean their season will end with the hoisting of a trophy. Those talented players still need to be part of a coordinated effort to make this happen.
This is where you, the leader of your corporate team, come to play. You can hire the most well-qualified and pleasant people on the face of the earth but if they and their professional efforts do not align with the goals you have set for your company, those goals will never be reached. Speaker and author Brian Tracy highlighted this, “Teamwork is so important that it is virtually impossible for you to reach the heights of your capabilities or make the money that you want without becoming very good at it.”
Truth be told, aligning your team with your company’s goals is much easier said than done. To make it seem a little more achievable, we have brought in a lineup of successful people with advice in this specific area.
1. Clear goals come before anything else
A team of highly-talented employees moving towards goals in unison is what every company desires for themselves no matter what line of work they are in. Regardless of your specific business circumstances, a team effort will almost always yield a more desirable result than any one individual. This is simply the nature of teamwork. But, this cannot happen if there is not set goals in place for this team to work towards. Like it or not, as the leader, the responsibility to set these falls to you.
“If employees do not know what the goals of the company are they will never be able to do anything about them,” said Omid Semino, CEO and Founder of Diamond Mansion. “If these goals do not exist in the first place, then your employees will probably be left wandering so to speak.”
None of this is to say setting clear goals is an easy process. By no means. Truthfully, identifying a handful of achievable and yet still vastly impactful goals can be quite the trying thought process. However, with a little elbow grease, some advice from others, and a lot of hard work, you can make this happen. In turn, your employees will have something to set their professional sights on.
“Some people like to say setting goals for your company is the easy part compared to actually pursuing these,” said Dr. Michael Green, Chief Medical Officer at Winona. “But I’d argue they’re equally as difficult because who is to say what is and is not a goal worth pursuing? The long and short of this is – take your time and be thorough.”
2. Create a plan to make said goals a reality
Having selected a few goals you want your company and team to focus on, it is time to figure out how to make these happen. It starts with devising a plan which concludes with the set goals coming to fruition. Once again, a little tact, brain power, and a knack for organization will come in handy here as a plan is only as effective as the person who created it allowed it to be. Assuming you are striving for success at all costs, putting your all into this process is extremely wise.
“A well-documented plan for getting your company from point A to point B will always serve you well,” said Ryan Delk, CEO of Primer. “But it will serve your employees even better as they’ll know how it all works and be able to tell where they are needed.”
This should be more than a few pie-in-the-sky ideals that you mention offhand every once in a while. Really, there should be a tangible list, graphic or other form of communication to inform employees of the company’s plans moving forward. Furthermore, this information should be accessible at all times. But there is another portion of this worth considering.
“Just because your employees are very much aware of what you and your company are after, does not mean they know what their role is,” said Ryan Rottman, Co-Founder and CEO of OSDB Sports. “Sure, they can read their job title but how exactly do they go about influencing this outcome? That’s where your planning comes into play.”
3. Demonstrate every employee’s impact on the company
This is a great segway into our next point on this topic – employee involvement. If you have any amount of experience as a leader in the working world, you know first-hand the stark differences between an employee who is ready to take on the world on behalf of your company and the employee who may be related to a zombie. Even if both of them turn in their work in a timely manner, one of these is far more desirable than the other. What you may not realize is you have a direct influence over cultivating the demeanor of both.
“When employees begin to feel like they are a number in a computer system rather than a human being with inherent value, they disengage,” said Justin Olson, Chief Marketing Officer from Fast Pace Health. “This is hardly the outcome you want to deal with so do all you can to show these people how their efforts matter.”
There are more than a couple of ways to go about this. First of all, public awards such as employee of the month or any number of titles can do great things to bring employees into the fold. Second, you can always pull an employee aside and tell them directly how much of a difference their work has made in recent weeks. Of course, there is always the tangible show of a bonus of pay raise but that might not always be realistic. No matter what, the point here is you should make it apparent to your employees you see them.
“People don’t always need some kind of appreciation from their employer but when it happens they often feel a small sense of belonging,” said Max Schwartzapfel, CMO at Fighting For You. “They contributed to the big picture and received demonstrable appreciation in return. It’s hard not to feel like that in this scenario.”
4. Communicate, communicate, communicate
Many businesses fail to keep their proverbial heads above water because they forget, or simply cannot, to perform the act of communicating regularly. Though, with the amount of communication necessary to run a business, it is hard to blame them. And this does not account for the amount of communication necessary to align your team with your company’s goals. Has the word communicate been used enough at this point? Do you understand that in order for this desired team alignment to happen you need communication?
“So many leaders are strong communicators when they choose to be but those moments are few and far between,” said Juan Pablo Cappello, Co-Founder and CEO of Nue Life. “This leaves employees in the dark and a little unsure of the direction of the company. Which is hardly a great working environment.”
Some might call high-frequency communication “over communication.” But in actuality, it is often the requisite amount to keep efficiency at its peak and employees engaged on every level. You see, when employees are left to sift through a purgatorial work environment, everything slows to a halt. If you have made it this far in the article, it is fair to guess you will do anything to align your team with your goals. But really, just keep it simple and keep them informed.
“I’ve witnessed one too many leaders who assume their employees know what’s up and yet they’re more lost than any workforce I’ve come across,” said Jae Pak, Founder of Jae Pak MD Medical. “If employees do not know what their employer wants to achieve, they’ll have little gumption to do much at all.”
5. Role delegation is key
All this being said, progress, success, and alignment in general will not happen unless each and every member of your team has a role and sticks to it. For example, sales people should be giving their full attention to their calls or meetings. Finance people should have their noses buried in numbers. Warehouse workers should have their hands full. Without attention paid to the act of organizing team members, alignment is nothing more than a pipe dream.
“I like to think of team alignment as the act of getting your ducks in a row,” said Marilyn Zubak, Marketing Lead from Snif. “As with a line of ducks, each person in your company has a spot meant for them and their talents. It is your job to maintain this.”
You can accomplish this in a number of ways. It does start with the hiring process, however. As your company grows, the need for new hires to fill specific roles will rise. Seeing as you are the leader, it falls to you to ensure the people coming aboard are the right piece to your current puzzle.
“In my opinion, the aligning of a corporate team doesn’t happen overnight despite how much we want it to,” said Susan K. Shaffer, President of Pneuma Nitric Oxide. “But, you can accelerate it by hiring the people who might already have some predisposition to your current goals.”
If it has been said once, it has been said a hundred times – aligning your team with your company’s goals is tricky business. But, it may be the most worthwhile endeavor your company dives into. Internet entrepreneur Reid Hoffmann summarized this, “No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy is, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team.”
Interesting Related Article: “How To Keep Your Team Engaged“