The foremost factor in organizational alignment is employee engagement. If engagement is low, then the business can’t run smoothly. Signs that your organization is misaligned with your people include:
- Workplace drama
- Poor connection
- Communication misfires
- Lack of empowerment
- Missed milestones
- Lack of accountability
Companies are made up of human beings, with all their insecurities and frailties. Because of these very normal imperfections, any concentration of people in one place is prone to generate some human drama. It’s common for any workplace experience to include a little bit of gossip, some rumors, and a few tense relationships.
Any organization that is fraught with tension, rumors, gossip, or resentment needs to do some self-inventory. These problems are almost invariably a result of organizational misalignment, meaning management and your people aren’t pointed in the same direction and working harmoniously toward a common end. This misalignment gives rise to a lack of respect in both directions.
Workplace drama naturally leads to poor connections between people and departments. If you see too many people trying to function as an island rather than as part of a team, or even a department functioning together but exhibiting an “us” and “them” mentality with other departments, then chances are your company alignment is off.
Ideally, every person and every department should see the purpose in functioning together, and they should all feel connected, like they’re part of a “whole.” Employee engagement is high when people feel they’re contributing in a meaningful way to the big picture and establishing healthy working relationships with colleagues and supervisors. Everybody wants to feel like they’re part of something.
Where there’s a lack of connection, poor communication nips at its heels. According to Harvard Business Review, “Only 17% of employees strongly agree [that] their company has open communication. Individual workers don’t know what to prioritize or why, which contributes to the staggering 70% of [employees] who remain disengaged at work.”
If your organization has a case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing, then your people’s workplace experience could be suffering. The organization may not be properly aligned.
Did you know there are tools which can effectively measure your company’s alignment? At Olumo, we provide simple text-message surveys for your people to give anonymous feedback on workplace experience topics. Our platform collects actionable data in real-time, allowing you to measure strengths and weaknesses with ease.
When teams feel safe to provide authentic feedback, businesses can overcome any communication challenge. Too often, leadership tries to solve the misfires on their own, but the people “on the ground” are the first line of defense when it comes to identifying communication issues, so executives should use their people to work together to create something better.
Get feedback from your people by asking them to voice their opinions. A few things to learn could be:
- The ways their role within the company contributes to overall company goals.
- The ways the roles of other team members complement their own part in reaching company goals.
- How roles and processes can be changed or improved to better reach company goals.
Lack of Empowerment
Although it may sound counterintuitive, poor communication can manifest as too much communication, rather than too little. This overabundance of communication usually bubbles up from a spring of insecurity from people in lower level positions if they feel they’re not empowered to do their jobs. Instead, they wait for management to direct their every move.
An empowered, aligned team starts with ensuring that everyone is working toward shared business goals. Every individual should know how the activities they perform contribute to the company's ultimate vision and objective. To ensure teams are aligned, provide transparency around the organization's vision, top priorities, and challenges. Clear roles, designated responsibilities, and tangible objectives must be assigned. Those who understand how their daily activities uphold the vision and goals of the company will be more empowered to succeed.
Are your people asking too many questions and seeking guidance (or permission) to make day-to-day decisions? If so, that’s a surefire sign of problems in organizational alignment. In this scenario, management hasn’t met people’s need for clear expectations and well-defined responsibilities. To affirm that everyone’s on the same page, ask your people questions such as:
- Do you feel your leaders have conflicting priorities?
- What personal goals does your manager encourage you to reach?
- What do you think are the top goals of the company?
- What are three things you’re working on that coincide with the vision of the company?
Does your organization have a problem with missing deadlines? Do you need to delay shipments or postpone client meetings because you don’t have your proverbial ducks in a row? If you’re beginning to see this disturbing trend, it may be time for you to evaluate your employee engagement.
Motivated people work hard to meet milestones and keep timelines on track. They feel a sense of investment in the company’s success and its good reputation. Often, if people exhibit apathy in these areas, you can trace it back to their own feelings of being underserved in some way. If deadlines are being missed and you’re not keeping faith with customers, it’s time to check your company alignment.
Lack of Accountability
Another sign you’re neglecting to align with people’s needs is finger-pointing. As humans, we’re imperfect, and therefore bound to make mistakes. Problems are likely to happen. These missteps are an unavoidable part of running a business.
However, if nobody is willing to take responsibility or hold themselves accountable when they, their department, or the company falls short of expectations, that’s a sure sign they don’t feel safe taking accountability. They could fear repercussions or job loss, or perhaps the office climate is unforgiving or inflexible. Finger-pointing and lack of accountability is a classic symptom of a deeper problem: the workplace experience is not meeting the needs of its people.
The seventh and arguably the most blatant sign of organizational misalignment is that people are severely overworked. If a person must do their own work and feel compelled to tackle or contribute to other people’s duties, then it’s clear that expectations aren’t where they should be. Generally, if people are performing the work of others, staying late to complete work, or feeling burned out, at least one (and probably more) of the signs discussed in this article are occurring.
Emotional well-being in the workplace is just as important as physical well-being. If the emotional welfare of people is not prioritized, this can cause serious damage. It’s not uncommon for someone to develop anxiety or depression if they’re pushed too hard. Also, disregarding disputes between people can agitate the situation and lead to an altercation or a quality person quitting. Instead, increase productivity and decrease turnover by creating an environment that promotes emotional well-being.
To foster a workplace that prioritizes company alignment and emotional well-being, and doesn’t over-work its people, ask questions to help you gauge whether people feel safe and cared for, such as:
- Do you feel optimistic about your future with the company?
- How does the company’s attentiveness to your emotional welfare impact your ability to perform?
- If something is frustrating you or making you feel uneasy, do you feel comfortable talking to your manager about it?
- How could the company provide better support to people who experience difficult emotional situations?
Align with Your People the Easy Way
If your business is showing any of these signs, get to the root of the problem as quickly as possible. Once you discover and correct the underlying issues, you’ll soon be able to function as the properly aligned machine that it is.
Get started on the path to improving company alignment and employee engagement by working with Olumo, a tool that develops engagement for you.
At Olumo, we provide a simple way for employees to give anonymous feedback on workplace topics through simple text-message surveys that collect actionable data in real-time. Our SMS surveys receive a high response rate because of how easy they are to use.
When you use this technology, you can quickly build the ideal workplace experience. Head to a productive journey of alignment for your business today!