How Employees Can Be Perfectly Aligned With Business Goals

A very common business problem is that employees don’t act in accordance with the strategy of the organization. The strategy says one thing, and employees do another. Strategic reviews show that the strategic intent of the organization is not working and dysfunction weaves its way among team members.

Generally there are two reasons for the dysfunction: one, you don’t have the skills need expertise necessary in people to execute your strategy, and two, even if people are skilled, they don’t know what should be doing specifically in their job to implement the strategy.

So, how do you develop employee teams to take the actions that the strategy requires?

It all starts with strategic context.

Without clarity around the strategy of the organization, it’s virtually impossible to define what behaviours are necessary for people to exhibit on a daily basis, as well as the skills and competencies required to consistently execute it.

Your strategic intent must be dissected and exposed so employee skills and competencies can be define and employees know how to behave.

There is no such thing as ‘good’ alignment or ‘close’ alignment.

Alignment either exists or it doesn’t and therefore the due diligence that must be applied to the process must be extremely disciplined and precise — ‘close enuf’ doesn’t work.

The following process worked for me. It produced a succinct People Plan for the business that was directly linked to business objectives, and had people all marching in step.

#1. Create a People Plan

First, the strategic game plan of the organization must contain a detailed ‘people plan’ with people objectives that define what talent is required to successfully execute the game plan.

Most strategies contain some precision on marketing, sales and finance objectives; the same must be done for the human element of the organization.

#2. Engage the CPO

The CPO— Chief People Officer— must be at the executive planning table.

A game plan that is developed without the fingerprints of the chief people leader will not produce the detailed direction required to align the human component of the organization to the desired strategic outcomes.

The primary role of the CPO is to decompose the strategic intent of the organization into what human elements are critical to achieving it.

The CPO is the translator that bridges the gap between the hill to be taken and the warriors needed to make it happen.

#3. Develop the People Plan in excruciating detail

It must be developed with sufficient granularity to answer these types of questions:

  • What new competencies are required to achieve the new strategic goals defined in the game plan?
  • What does the training and recruitment plan look like to acquire these new competencies? The timing of these actions must precisely parallel the strategy’s need for the new skills critical to deliver results within a specific timeframe.
  • What existing competencies are no longer required?
  • What training is needed to equip these people with the new skills required?
  • What is the exit plan to move people out of the organization who are either incapable or unwilling to acquire new expertise?

This piece is extremely important. You can’t have people hanging out with yesterday’s competencies and expect that you will be able to meet the new realities of the business. Only two options are available: train the new or exit the old.

  • How do the elements of the People Plan line up with strategic objectives? To get alignment.  you have to demonstrate precisely how the outcome of each element of the plan serves a corresponding component of the business strategy.

For example which critical objectives of the business are satisfied by which of the new skills targeted to acquire? You need to be able to ‘see’ the link directly, otherwise you can’t claim there is alignment.

#4. Hold the CPO accountable

The CPO must be held accountable to present the People Plan back to the executive team that developed the organization’s game plan, and must PROVE that it is in alignment with the priorities of the strategy.

This must be treated as an inquisition of sorts, as the consequences of mis-alignment are serious — squandered resources and a dysfunctional culture.

Most organizations don’t apply this type of rigor to ensuring alignment, but complain of dysfunction.

You can’t have it both ways.

You will never have talent management in alignment with business objectives if you don’t put in the discipline and hard work necessary to achieve it.

Related: Why Customers Should Be Allowed to Make Your Rules and Policies