How to: Align Your Team Through Conversations

Aligning your team is crucial. However, some leaders aren’t versed in the art of alignment conversations, making it difficult to get on the same page as managers, peers and direct reports. 

Why are Alignment Conversations Important? 

It is these important conversations that ensure we are focused on the right outcomes, are heading in the same direction and are aware of what we expect from each other to make this happen. 

There are two key outcomes of alignment conversations. 

Clarity

The need to ensure everyone in the team is clear of what it is we are wanting to achieve and how we are going to do it.  

Commitment 

The need to achieve buy in and ownership to ensure we work as one team toward the common goal.  

These conversations are most important when: 

Relationships between team members or with the leader are still being developed 

Healthy and respectful relationships between team members and leaders result in a more aligned workplace. It is these relationships that are the foundations for having open and aligned conversations. By demonstrating that these are a priority, it makes team members feel supported and comfortable, especially when discussing issues, problems or ideas. 

There is a potential need to pivot on strategy 

This is especially true right now, as leaders rapidly shift to new ways of working and working together, which naturally comes with new and different expectations. The overall company strategy has changed, but so has your entire experience. There has been a major push now to re-evaluate management techniques and company-wide systems and processes. 

Having honest and open alignment conversations will ensure that the whole team is updated, on board and on the same page as you move through these changes as a team. 

Unexpected issues or obstacles have disrupted an existing plan of action 

Once again, applicable to a lot of company’s current situations where it is difficult to plan, strategise and forecast with such a limited line of sight. The pre-covid plan of action, financial forecasts and plans for potential growth have been majorly disrupted and along with that comes a lot of unexpected challenges that only two-way conversations can effectively work through and ease the minds of your team. 

The organisation is experiencing a period of rapid change 

Everyone is experiencing this right now as we move through waves of Covid, economic changes and changing expectations. Rapid changes demonstrate a fixed or growth mindset. A growth mindset means your team and company are agile and flexible at making quick decisions to grow with the changes as opposed to not and risk becoming stagnant and redundant. 

We are all experiencing major disruptions to our work lives and our existing way of working. However, approaching these conversations with honesty and trust from both parties, will result in a conversation discussing the focus as well as offering and enlisting support to achieve the desired outcome. 

Critical Success Factors 

For an alignment conversation to achieve the right outcome, both people need to approach it from a place of trust and honesty to ensure that all relevant issues, factors and feelings have been addressed. Both also need to be willing to adjust and compromise. ‘Alignment’ means both people are moving in the same direction but with unique roles to fulfil. Neither can be successful without the support and accountability of the other. Therefore, the goal of the conversation is not simply to gain agreement, but to jointly agree to a commitment. 

Alignment conversations are incredibly important to the success of the company across all levels of management/employees. 

What conversations are you having with your team to ensure alignment during this difficult time? 

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