Is getting everyone moving in the same direction important to your success?
Is alignment important?
These are the questions that have been posed to me by an entrepreneur I know, Jaime. Jaime was concerned about getting a variety of opinions and new ideas within his team. For this reason, he wanted to understand if it was OK to have people moving in different directions.
I suggested Jaime think about his team rowing on either side of a boat.
If his team didn’t all try to go in the same direction and get the timing of the oars all together, they would either have their oars hit each other as the people tried to row, or they might end up rowing in circles.
Either way, the first priority is to get everyone moving in the same direction. And so alignment is critical.
However, Jaime’s fear of alignment preventing new ideas from coming up is not a concern when handled correctly. In fact, having the confidence that the team is all together can make it easier for team members to speak up with new ideas and ways to achieve those goals.
When the team is not of one mind, conflict can often discourage people from offering suggestions because it does not feel safe to do so. I have seen this behavior many times.
One commonly overlooked tool for getting both team alignment and new ideas is the one-on-one meeting.
When managers hold one-on-one meetings with their direct reports on a regular basis and take the time and energy to listen intently to the suggestions and concerns of their direct reports, I have found that the direct reports are more likely to understand the goals and direction of the company, as well as have the confidence to share new ideas with their manager.
Another tool that is sometimes overlooked in creating alignment in an organization is the mission. By making an organization more than just a way to make the owner rich, the team can find yet another way to come together.
Of course, using values to make decisions and having regular, structured management meetings can also keep teams aligned towards your goals. So make sure your team is clear on your intended direction and aligned in their focus so that you can achieve your goals.
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