Editor’s note: Ed Gash is president of Eagle Wings “Where Leaders Learn to Soar”, a Charlotte-based firm specializing in enhancing performance and building change resilienceHave you ever been driving down the road and felt the tug and pull of your car’s steering because the wheels were out of alignment? You muster all that energy to keep control of the car only to get more frustrated as you steer in the opposite direction just to keep the car straight.
Often times when organizations undergo change they also get out of alignment. For employees and management, this may mirror what it feels like when driving a car that is out of alignment. Feelings of frustration, immobility and lack of control over their job may soon prevail.
As with a car’s wheels or a person with a bad back, an organization that is out of alignment can face significant wear and tear. Whether it’s the employees or the profitability of the company, everyone suffers in the end.
So, how do you align an organization that is undergoing change? Building trust is essential.
In order to establish trust, it’s important to have personal alignment before achieving organizational alignment. How can we align others if we aren’t aligned ourselves?
Since alignment is a process of making a vision a reality, it relates to many factors in the workplace such as: integrity, values/ideas, decision making, problem solving, motivation and empowerment.
Always keep integrity in mind when realigning yourself, members of your team or an organization by remembering the three Cs — candor, consistency and congruency. By maintaining candor, you’re keeping the lines of communication open by encouraging people to put their thoughts, feelings and ideas into words. Be consistent by putting words into action and setting an example by practicing what you preach. Establish congruency by creating a team atmosphere and unifying everyone to pursue the same goal.
Visions and values
Alignment also ties into the company’s vision and values. Think of the physical elements of alignment and how they can impact a situation. I have sciatica that causes my back to sometimes get out of whack. This is very painful and usually makes me temporarily immobile. There’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to move and feeling like I have no control over my body. These feelings of frustration and immobility hold true for employees in an organization that is out of alignment. Staff needs to feel mobile, that they are being valued and that they have some control over their job. As a result, this allows everyone to better prioritize their time and manage projects efficiently.
Proper alignment can also lead to effective decision making. It creates a structure for strategic planning and for implementing sound policies that will ultimately yield successful results for both the employees and the company.
No matter what the situation is in a company, there will always be problems to solve, which is another reason why alignment is so essential. It allows for the assessment of limiting factors to get to the root cause of a problem so that you can find solutions and get your team back on track. Alignment can also help mitigate problems by preventing them in the first place and by avoiding the “law of reversed effort” — the concept of a conflict between someone’s will and their imagination. If a person feels that they can’t do what they want to accomplish, then they typically do the exact opposite making the task impossible to achieve. Take micromanaging for example. The more you interfere, the more immobile an employee feels thereby affecting the alignment of that person, creating distrust and resulting in an incomplete project.
So, what are some of the barriers to aligning people and an organization? People are creatures of habit, which can be a hindrance in achieving alignment. Not only are you trying to alter work-related habits, but also personal habits. Existing systems can also present issues because you’re ultimately varying the way people do things. Boundaries are another factor. People may not want to overstep their boundaries and often want to stay in their comfort zone.
While realigning an organization and your staff may feel daunting at times, alignment in the end is worth it. It brings balance, peace, and harmony and therefore motivates people to get the job done. It also generates feelings of empowerment. By being aligned, people feel more in control of their situation and therefore feel valued and that they can get the job done. Stephen R. Covey of Franklin Covey once said, “An empowered organization is one in which individuals have the knowledge, skill, desire, and opportunity to personally succeed in a way that leads to collective organizational success.”
Ed Gash is president of Eagle Wings “Where Leaders Learn to Soar” www.calleaglewings.com , a Charlotte-based firm specializing in enhancing performance and building change resilience. He can be reached at 704.458.9184 or firstname.lastname@example.org