Total Alignment: Tools and Tactics for Streamlining Your Organization
June 19, 2017
Dr. Riaz Khadem and Linda Khadem share proven processes that will get all your people on the same page.
Misalignment is what happens when the way your people spend their time is out of sync with your mission. Sound familiar? It does to most companies, but gets far too little attention.
No matter what size your company is, Total Alignment: Tools and Tactics for Streamlining Your Organization shares proven processes that will get all your people on the same page. To make sure you stay aligned and don’t veer off course like so many companies do, you’ll also learn how to measure and track throughout the year how aligned your people’s results are with the overall outcome your business was intended to achieve.
For 25 years, Infotrac Founder and CEO Dr. Riaz Khadem and EVP Linda Khadem have been helping companies align their processes so they can turn mission into action into desired results. They’ve worked with small and large companies in the U.S. and abroad, including FEMSA, the largest Coca-Cola bottler in the world, which increased revenue 21 times between 1996 and 2016 by implementing new initiatives including total alignment.
In easy to follow steps, the authors show how you can achieve alignment by:
- Defining the right alignment progress indicators for each of your people
- Supporting these indicators with data to measure progress toward your vision
- Creating an alignment map that will serve as a frame of reference for every action
- Assigning clear roles and accountability for each initiative and progress indicator
- Creating individual scorecards for everyone (including the CEO) to delegate, clarify and align responsibilities and compensation with the organization’s vision, strategy and core values
- Scheduling results meetings and “vertical” performance reviews that are upward-focused and future-oriented instead of about past accomplishments
- Linking pay to performance based on how well your people’s results are aligned with the goals of your company.
Is Your Company Misaligned? Check for these Symptoms
A company is misaligned when people pursue goals and agendas that are incongruent with each other and do not combine to effectively advance a single purpose. One way to determine the extent to which your company is misaligned is to watch for the following symptoms:
Decision making takes too long. Slow decision making decreases the momentum needed for growth and puts your company at a competitive disadvantage, particularly when you’re competing with aggressive competitors and more agile organizations. There could be legitimate reasons for taking time to make decisions. However, if the slow pace is caused by lack of clarity as to who should make the decision, or poor understanding of the vision and strategy of the organization, then these conditions inhibit action and indicate a lack of alignment.
There are too many meetings. Meetings are necessary for exchanging thoughts and ideas, making plans and reviewing progress. But organizations often are stifled by too many long and unfocused meetings that waste time and drain productivity. If this is the case in your company, the underlying cause could be lack of clear definition of accountability. When it’s unclear who is accountable, then everyone is accountable and too many people are invited to meetings. In organizations hampered by a strict hierarchical culture, functional managers find it necessary to be present in meetings, or send their representatives to attend. As a result, meetings become too large and too long for effective action, and little progress is made when the meeting is over.
There’s an overload of email. When we talk about this symptom, we’re not referring to the overload of junk email, which can be eliminated by your computer software. We’re talking about legitimate messages that people receive and cannot ignore. Highly skilled knowledge workers spend too much of their time managing email. While important messages should be answered, a large number are unnecessary. Frequently they’re sent in such high volume because organizational responsibilities haven’t been clearly defined, and managers feel they need to copy a long list of people to protect their actions from criticism or to respect hierarchical protocols. Email overload can be an indicator of misalignment.
Silos exist. Silos are departments working as separate units and not sharing information with other departments in the same company. The lack of communication may be intentional or unintentional. Functional units often become turfs that guard information and interests. Silos exist in organizations of all sizes and are an indication of misalignment.
There’s a lack of clarity of responsibility. When responsibilities are not clearly defined, either no one is taking charge, or someone is taking charge who might not be the right person, or several people are fighting for control. These scenarios have varying effects on the bottom line of the company. When the results are good, people tend to compete to get credit. When the results are bad, people may engage in finger-pointing and assigning blame to each other. These are all symptoms of misalignment.
There’s a lack of empowerment at lower levels. If the lower levels in your organization don’t feel empowered to make decisions, then you might be experiencing misalignment. The employees on the front line are the ones that sell the product, often deliver the product, and serve the customers. When they aren’t empowered to act and merely wait to receive instructions from their managers, customers suffer and customer loyalty is lost. This is an important symptom of misalignment. Lower levels should be empowered with a clear definition of responsibilities; they are your link to customers, with the critical role of helping your company align with the market.
Communication is selective, protecting individual interests. If you sense that communication among people is not open and free-flowing, or if people are cautious about sharing information, you could have an alignment problem. Information is not owned by turfs. It belongs to the company and should be available to whomever has a legitimate need for it. When a manager and a direct report converse, if the direct report selectively shares information or hides information from the manager, no useful outcome will result from the meeting.
There’s a lack of motivation in the organization. This is a general malaise you would find in misaligned organizations. It’s the result of multiple misaligned elements described above. Lack of motivation leads to apathy, where people have the attitude of ‘whatever.’ Apathy is a serious condition that can impact your success. It is the opposite of being unified in purpose, having a clear vision and a strategy for success.
Confusion and rumors proliferate. When alignment is absent, people become confused as to where your organization is going, what they should do and why. When people are left confused for too long, many revert to gossip, sharing opinions and news that could become distracting or destructive. Confusion and rumors are the byproducts of a misaligned organization.These symptoms are present to different degrees in companies of all sizes, but a strategic focus on alignment can help reduce or eliminate them—whether you have $1 million in sales or $4 billion.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Dr. Riaz Khadem is the founder and CEO of Infotrac, a U.S.-based consulting firm that specializes in aligning and transforming organizations.Having spent over 25 years of consulting managers in business strategy deployment, performance management, leadership, and cultural transformation, Dr. Khadem grew inspired to create the Total Alignment management model. Khadem’s work in business strategy provides managers across the globe a succinct model that joins unique concepts, methodologies, and tools together to align their organizations at all levels and transform the way managers work.
This model has since been implemented in organizations across the globe, including U.S., UK, Germany, Spain, Austria, Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil along with several industries such as manufacturing, insurance, and retail. Dr. Khadem has lectured in business forums in several countries. He has held teaching and research positions at Southampton University, Northwestern University, and Universite Laval, and currently holds a doctorate in Applied Mathematics.
Linda Khadem is the EVP and in-house counsel of Infotrac, overseeing product trademarks, copyrights, and contracts with clients and representatives worldwide. In addition, she has been instrumental in the evolution of Total Alignment, along with other business strategy books such as One Page Management and previous adaptations of Total Alignment published in Colombia and Brazil.
Along with her work at Infotrac, Khadem pursues justice and education across the nation. She has served as secretary and chairperson of the Baha’I Justice Society, a national organization of 180 attorneys. She has spoken at numerous conferences on the theme of justice and served as the coordinator of refugee children’s classes promoting moral and spiritual education in eleven Atlanta neighborhoods. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Illinois as well as a degree of Juris Doctor (J.D.) from Emory University and has been educated in the U.S., UK, and Canada.