I am sure that you agree that in order to maximize business performance, each employee must be in 100% agreement with the company’s goals and vision.

If you’re frustrated and feel that your team is not rowing in the same direction and aligned, you’re not alone.

In the McKinsey article, “The Aligned Organization” the author makes the following point:

“Achieving real alignment, where strategy, goals, and meaningful purpose reinforce one another, gives an organization a major advantage because it has a clearer sense of what to do at any given time, and it can trust people to move in the right direction. The result is an organization that can focus less on deciding what to do—and more on simply doing.”

The problem is, most organizations are NOT aligned.

One the key indicators for alignment is whether each member of the team understands the strategy. Research compiled by the Metrus Group indicated that only 14% of employees understand their organization’s strategy.

Clearly, there is a real efficiency that happens within an aligned organization and serious problems result when employees are unclear and confused about company direction and goals.

So how do you ensure the day to day activities of your employees are aligned with your company goals? Here a 5 ways to ensure alignment.

Make Sure Each Employee Buys Into The Core Values And Vision

I see this problem over and over again as I consult with small businesses.

There are always a few employees who seem to be a continual problem. It’s not that they are bad people, just that they have different core values and vision than the company they work for.

I had a customer share a story about a recent conversation he had with a troubled employee. The employee told my client that he may have chosen the wrong profession and that he really did not want to do the job they hired him for! Talk about a lack of alignment.

Your culture is made up of your core values and if they are not clear, you have a strong chance of hiring someone who is not in alignment with your vision.

Maybe you’re looking to grow one area of the business, but some members of your team think you should go in a different direction. That’s a lack of alignment that will drain resources.

I’ve seen employees who do not agree with the vision, literally undermine leadership. It’s a cancer that needs to be excised, but often it’s not for fear of losing that employee. Mistake.

You’d be surprised at the amount of lost productivity and creativity that this causes. You need everyone on the team pulling in the same direction, 100% bought into your vision and you must remove those that are not.

Make Sure Each Employee Is 100% Clear About Their Key Responsibilities And KPIs

Probably the second biggest problem that I uncover in speaking to small businesses is a lack of clarity around job responsibilities and KPIs (how those responsibilities are measured).

It’s a common problem which occurs in a fast paced environment. Employees leave and new ones enter. Employees are forced to pick up new responsibilities which they may or may not be suited for. There could even be tasks that add no value, but employees keep doing them just “because”.

Take time (at least quarterly) to ensure each employee is 100% clear on what you expect them to do. If you haven’t done this, ask the employee to list out what they think are their key responsibilities and compare notes.

If you need some help defining your employees key responsibilities and KPIs, we’ve created a chart to help that you can download here.

Make Sure Each Employee Has At Least One Initiative Per Quarter Which Maps To A Company Goal

Business is becoming increasingly competitive and the rate of change is accelerating, putting more and more pressure on your business. Maximizing your greatest asset (your people) is more important than ever.

Just being more efficient than your competition or offering better customer service is just not going to cut it long term. For that reason, you need to ignite the creative genius in your greatest asset – your employees.

Once your employees know your company goals, challenge them to come up with one thing each quarter that will help the company move closer to realizing its vision.

Make Sure Each Employee Attends A One on One (At Least Bi-Weekly) With Their Immediate Supervisor

Another area where small businesses seem to struggle is with having regularly scheduled one on ones. This is one habit which will pay massive dividends and giving you an opportunity to tune in employees and clarify misunderstanding.

As a rule of thumb, make sure that each employee meets with their supervisor at least every other week.

If you need some help with an agenda, you can download some sample agendas here.

Make Sure You Really Listen To Employee Concerns And Act On Them

To ensure your company is aligned and everyone is rowing in the same direction, is not all about what your employees must do.

As an owner you must also listen.

Often your employees see things that you do not see. They are the boots on the ground and the closest to the customer.

If you’re having regular one on ones, there should be a flow of information back to you. Encourage your team to share concerns with you. Don’t ignore these concerns and work hard to take action on them.