When the stars align, everything is supposed to come together. But what does alignment mean in the world of business? Can we navigate our own course or do we shrug our shoulders and just leave it up to the stars?
Leaders know that in business, no one who waits for the stars to align naturally will succeed. You need to create your own luck and either pull them into position, or change your perspective so they begin to match up.
But while the importance of clearly aligning and communicating business objectives for a strong organisational structure is common knowledge, the principles of good alignment are also a vital ingredient in maintaining a strong and healthy organisational culture.
The impact of alignment on business culture can’t be underestimated – but all too often, this is exactly where it is neglected.
Properly disseminating the values of a business – and opening a two-way dialogue which allows employees to shape those goals – is key to an aligned and engaged workforce and a high performance culture. It affects the efficiency of a business, eliminates room for misunderstanding and encourages openness and innovation. It creates an atmosphere where individuals are connected to a wider purpose and work together to achieve common goals.
Things to consider for cultural alignment
True cultural alignment requires four key areas to match up with each other:
- Values: the grounding principles that an organisation collectively considers to be important. These values are imperative in guiding decision making at all levels within an organisation. What are your values and are they clearly communicated to your people?
- Behaviour: the way that those values are made manifest in day-to-day behaviour. Does your leadership team live and breathe your values?
- Process: how those behaviours are standardized and made repeatable, so that they can become endemic throughout an organisation. What processes are in place and are they working?
- Systems: how those processes are arranged within an organisation to make them repeatable, manageable and integrated. Are your systems fit for purpose?
Each of these elements are equally important, and none can be neglected. When they work together in symbiosis, an organisational culture will become self-reinforcing. Employees will have the right level of clarity, know how to influence positive change, and will be engaged with the business’s journey and evolution. When these align, the ROI of culture is undeniable.
Our research has shown that the best performing companies have a clearly defined and aligned culture. There is a strong correlation between business growth and a deep-rooted, clearly communicated culture in the fastest-growing companies. The top 27 highest-performing organisations in the group—7% of all those assessed—had an average year-on-year revenue growth of 46%. These were the smaller, more agile companies that had a dedicated focus on culture.*
Among them, 70% had a strong mission and purpose that was communicated clearly and regularly by the leadership team to all employees, reinforcing that culture is a top down activity. Two thirds of employees at the companies reported a high level of engagement, and 78% felt encouraged to take initiative and drive change. Crucially, they saw the communication of the company’s mission coming directly from the leadership, with more than half finding that their leaders were proactive in seeking to shape the organisation’s culture or that the way their leaders behaved reflected that culture.
These aligned organisational cultures demonstrate the business case for making an aligned company culture a top priority, or in fact culture as a KPI. It isn’t just a nice-to-have, or a HR exercise: it actively fuels success.
Learn more about how we maximise cultural alignment through the Culture Workbench, our real-time culture analytics platform.