3 Ways Organizational Alignment Transforms Company Culture

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Organizational Alignment Transforms

The words “company culture” might conjure visions of virtual happy hours, ping-pong tables, and inspirational quotes on the walls. But a well-functioning, strategically aligned organizational culture is much more than these initial impressions. It drives how the business functions, right down to the employee experience. The employee experience is pivotal, as it directly impacts the service customers receive.

When there’s alignment between what the company says it is and employees’ own perceptions, customers tend to get better service. The experience is more cohesive, pays attention to their needs, and matches the business’s values. Organizational alignment can elevate a company’s market position while attracting the resources it needs to stay on top. Let’s break down three ways org alignment improves company culture and why it can lead to success.

1. It Provides a Shared Purpose

It’s hard for employees to do their jobs when they feel circumstances are working against them. In misaligned organizations, these circumstances are usually poorly defined expectations, chaotic communication, and office politics. Yes, office politics tend to exist in most companies to some degree. But they can be a real roadblock to progress when they consist of rampant gossip, in-fighting, and cutthroat competition.

In such environments, it’s everyone for themselves. Instead of pursuing a shared purpose, staff members head in different directions. And sometimes employees are left to carve out those paths as they go along. Sadly, staff members may not understand their roles and how they fit into the organization’s goals.

A lack of a shared purpose can set employees up for failure. It also contributes to a culture where team members lose motivation because they don’t feel welcome or appreciated. But in organizations that practice strategy alignment, cultures often become more collaborative by default. Employees are all working toward the same, clearly defined goal. Plus, individual contributors know what’s expected of them and how their work moves the entire team forward, which increases employee satisfaction.

2. It Boosts Retention

Organizations need talent to survive and thrive. But most of today’s job seekers are looking for something beyond a paycheck. They want reassurance they’ll be immersed in a culture that matches their values, provides meaning, and supports their ambitions. If employees don’t feel connected to an employer’s culture, the chances they’ll leave go up.

A company with a revolving door loses more than butts in seats. The expertise of trained staff members also walks out with them. Higher turnover leaves remaining employees on shaky ground since their workloads — and accompanying anxieties — increase. Candidates see there’s a retention problem and may turn down offers, suspecting a toxic culture.

When it comes to employees feeling connected to their organization’s culture, Gallup’s research indicates there’s a problem. Only two in 10 U.S. workers feel connected. Just around 23% of employees strongly agree they can apply their company’s values to everyday tasks. And only 27% strongly agree that they believe in their employer’s values.

Contrary to popular belief, the source of the disconnection usually isn’t the individual. It’s a lack of strategic leadership. When leaders establish priorities and what success means, employees have a game plan to run with. They’re engaged in achieving the company’s goals and demonstrating its values because they know what they are. Staff members can also grasp how the two relate to their personal why, strengthening their connection to the organization.

3. It Promotes a Positive Work Environment

Negative work environments can take a toll on employees, increasing their mental health risks. Examples of poor working conditions include unreasonable workloads, a lack of control over one’s job, and job insecurity. At the extreme end are environments characterized by discrimination, mistreatment, and bullying. Not surprisingly, people attempting to perform in these conditions can’t reach their potential. Poor mental health increases burnout, sick days, and coping behaviors like output reduction.  

Organizational cultures that tolerate or promote detrimental behaviors may stem from a lack of strategic alignment. Say there’s an ongoing conflict between a company’s sales and marketing divisions. Some friction among these departments isn’t unusual given their close interdependence. They depend on each other to carry out their respective responsibilities, and when one underperforms, the blame game can start.

But what if there’s a complete misalignment between sales and marketing activities? Sales and marketing directors may butt heads, viewing initiatives as ways to score political points with the C-suite. They may overload their teams with divergent tasks, with the high probability the company won’t implement the results. Team members can begin to lose faith in leadership, feel their work is useless, and perceive that their ideas don’t matter.

As a result, team members may check out in more ways than one. The company also risks losing ground with customers in these scenarios. When department leadership is on the same page, contributors from various units are less likely to be seen as threats. Shared ownership, more balanced workloads, an open exchange of ideas, and consistent follow-through foster success.        

Strategic Alignment’s Relationship to Company Culture

Organizations without a strategy tend to lack an authentic identity. Because these companies have confusing and chaotic internal environments, employees don’t know where they stand. They’re either unsure of their objectives or feel they don’t have a voice.

Misalignment sets the stage for an unproductive culture, as individual purposes take over for absent shared ones. With strategic alignment between the company’s mission and employees’ work, leadership stands a better chance of creating a supportive culture. In such a culture, contributors feel motivated to achieve the company’s goals together. 

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