The Top 2 Strategies to Achieve Employee Alignment

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Advantage" by Patrick Lencioni. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What is employee alignment? Are your employees dedicated to your company?

Employee alignment simply means that your employees are on the same page as you when it comes to the company goals and expectations. In The Advantage, Patrick Lencioni says that employees must align with the organization’s goals for organizational unity.

Read below to learn how to achieve employee alignment at your company.

Employee Alignment and Dedication

To achieve employee alignment, the organization’s hiring and firing processes must align with its goals and standards. To achieve employee dedication, leaders must constantly and effectively communicate the organization’s goals and standards and their personal dedication to them. Let’s explore each of these processes in more detail.

(Shortform note: To create employee alignment and dedication, Lencioni says goals and standards must be prioritized during hiring and firing and must be constantly communicated to employees. While John Doerr agrees that goals must be transparent, he points out in Measure What Matters that creating organizational goals and standards at the top, as Lencioni recommends, may disrupt employee dedication. When goals and standards are created at the top and then trickled down through methods like hiring processes and rigid protocols, employees on the ground aren’t given the opportunity to offer ideas regarding their own work. Consequently, they may feel like their opinions and experiences aren’t valued, and organizational efficiency, flexibility, connection, and motivation may decrease as a result.)

Strategy #1: Prioritize Organizational Alignment When Hiring and Firing Employees

The first step in achieving employee alignment is to prioritize the organization’s goals and standards during the hiring process. Many organizations struggle with this because they prioritize potential employees’ skills over their attitudes and values. Hiring employees who don’t align with the company’s goals and standards disrupts organizational health by causing inconsistencies within organizational culture, disagreements, low productivity, and high employee attrition.

Before placing value on a candidate’s skills, interviewers should gauge whether the candidate upholds the organization’s behavioral values and believes in the organization’s core purpose. Candidates who don’t align shouldn’t be considered for the role. Employees who are hired should be thoroughly trained on the organization’s core purpose, behavioral values, and success strategies to reinforce alignment and dedication.

Next, Lencioni says that organizations must change their firing practices to retain employees that meet behavioral standards and eliminate employees who don’t—regardless of their skill level. If you’re considering firing an employee who meets behavioral standards but lacks skill, give them a performance improvement plan instead—according to Lencioni, it’s easier to improve the skills of someone who’s aligned with the organization than to change the attitude and values of someone who’s highly skilled.

Strategy #2: Gain Employee Dedication With Constant, Effective Communication

To ensure employee dedication to the organization’s goals and standards, these goals and standards—and leaders’ dedication to them—must be effectively and repeatedly communicated. Lencioni explains information must be repeated multiple times for employees to fully understand it and dedicate themselves to acting on it. Further, information must be communicated in a way that achieves employee buy-in. 

(Shortform note: Experts similarly emphasize that constant and effective communication is necessary for an organization to continue growing. They list three components that make communication within an organization effective: It must inspire, educate, and reinforce. These components align with Lencioni’s recommendation to repeatedly communicate in a way that achieves employee buy-in. Reinforcing previously established goals and standards means constantly communicating them, and making information inspiring and educational ensures that employees always personally believe in goals and standards and know what’s expected from them.)

Outside of traditional communication methods like newsletters, email announcements, and all-hands meetings, cascading communication is the best way to ensure employee dedication. Cascading communication is when news travels from the top down by word of mouth. In practice, this means that members of the leadership team leave meetings and immediately share the news from that meeting with their direct reports, who then share with their direct reports, and so on until the entire organization has received the news. 

For cascading communication to be effective, Lencioni says that messages must be consistent and communicated promptly and face-to-face. Members of each hierarchy bracket (executives, managers, supervisors, general employees, and so on) must receive the same message within the same time frame. For example, all executives should get the news within the first hour, managers within the second hour, supervisors within the third hour, and so on.

Cascading communication is effective because face-to-face communication increases personal dedication. When employees witness their leader’s dedication through their facial expressions and tone and are able to respond and ask questions, they feel personally involved in the organization’s mission and consequently more dedicated. 

(Shortform note: Experts agree with Lencioni that face-to-face communication (FTFC) increases employee dedication and productivity. They also note a few benefits that Lencioni doesn’t mention. First, FTFC increases trust by helping employees get to know each other. Second, real-time conversations make it easier to explain your point and persuade employees that it’s valid. Third, FTFC enhances conflict resolution because people are more likely to pick up on tension based on the other person’s body language and resolve any issues immediately. Written communication makes it far more difficult to read others’ emotions, which is a necessary component of conflict resolution.)

The Top 2 Strategies to Achieve Employee Alignment

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Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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