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September 26, 2019

Why is Senior Team Alignment Important to Organization Health?


Photo: "108 Monmouth Comprehensive School Boat Club" by Steve Selwood is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

“The purpose of a team is not goal attainment but goal alignment.” — Tom DeMarco

In our last blog we talked about Employee Passion and the Passion Pyramid where Employee Need #5 is to be part of a Winning Team. Both employees and leaders have a need to be part of a winning team, but senior leaders often don’t define their “team” as the Top Team/their peers.

Leadership team alignment is critical both to the health of an organization and to employee engagement. According to a recent AON Hewitt Global Best Employer Research Report “Engagement is derived from the way a senior leader connects with other senior leaders in the organization and how effective and accountable (not necessarily how nice) they are as a unit.”

Most of us have seen what happens in an organization when the senior team is not aligned. It means that the rest of the organization is “doing their own thing” and this can be ok if there is a very strong and integrated set of Middle Leaders, which is a very rare thing – not rare to have talented Middle leaders but rare that they are connected in an organized way outside of senior leadership alignment. So, the path to Employee Passion often starts at the “Top of the House”.

We recently conducted an Employee Passion Assessment with one of our Client organizations. We knew going in, that this organization had an amazing culture, especially for attracting and retaining young talent, but what surprised us was finding out that while Senior Leadership was also very Passionate, they weren’t at the highest level of Passion (Level 5: Passionate about the job and the organization). Fifty percent of the leadership was only passionate about their jobs (not the organization) at both the Top of the House and one level down). This was both a surprise and a concern to the organization’s leadership and to us. In interviews with staff, we discovered some common themes around what makes passionate employees, a lot of it had to do with leadership, but the reviews of leaders were inconsistent – some do it well and others don’t. What if this leadership team was more aligned and Level Five passionate? What could this organization accomplish? Fifteen years earlier this organization, after leadership team alignment work with one leadership team, received “Best Place to Work” recognition because the leadership was aligned both with themselves and with their HQ leadership and this was felt at the staff level and created more engagement and passionate employees.

AON Hewitt also discovered a “multiplier effect” in their research of organizations with high financial results – the quality of senior management. When senior managers have high levels of engagement, they are able to engage others in the organization, thus raising the overall employee engagement, and these same leaders were also able to create engaged teams. Back to Intégro’s Passion Pyramid with the Top rung on the Pyramid – “being part of a winning team”, those organizations whose leadership teams are aligned are more financially successful and satisfy employees’ needs to be part of a winning team.

What is Leadership Team Alignment? A team aligned around:

  1. Purpose (why we exist)
  2. Values (our guiding principles)
  3. Vision (what we aspire to become)
  4. Goals (our milestones)
  5. Priorities (what is most important)
  6. Roles (who does what to achieve vision and goals)

Team members need to have both: 1) Clarity in each of these areas, and 2) Agreement on each of these areas. Once these are achieved, the leadership team needs to communicate and reinforce these over and over and through key business processes, and we mean over and over. In fact, it’s been said that some things need to be communicated and reinforced seven times before they actually are heard and understood.

In Summary:

We hope you take the time to ask great questions and have a conversation with your top team. We here at The Heffelfinger Company can support you in having those conversations. You can use Ask a Coach or contact us direct or for a free consultation, of if you want more clarity a no cost assessment.

How aligned is your team on Values That Build Trust™ and on its’ Purpose, Values, Vision, Goals, Priorities, and Roles? We are gifting one team alignment survey for one team of your choice.

Is YOUR team aligned?

Sign up here for a free assessment to find out.

And finally, we would love to hear from you. What are you learning about Team Alignment or the lack of Team alignment and its effects on Employee Passion in your organization.

Warm regards,

Lori Heffelfinger and James Jackman

Please feel free to check out our other recent blog articles:

Engagement and passion in the workplace

The four key behaviors that build trust

Trust increases speed and lowers costs in business

References: The Multiplier Effect

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