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& # 39; The Alignment Issue & # 39 ;: Collaboration is the spine of alignment

November
19, 2020

7 min read

The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur's contributors are their own.

This is the fifth article in an exclusive series of articles by Total Alignment authors Riaz Khadem and Linda Khadem, entitled "The Alignment Factor." Check back every Thursday for new rates.

Everyone has an opinion and we all have our own plans. But how do you get people with strong opinions and their own ideas to work together for the good of the organization? Think about how it works in many work environments. Think of all the efforts people make to influence others, to follow their example, and even to manipulate others to achieve their goals. This is exactly the alignment and behavior that leads to misalignment. Collaboration is important; in fact, it is the backbone of alignment.

If we agree that collaboration is good, is it possible to systematize it? Our answer is: yes! We believe that what prevents people from working together is the systemic tendency towards individual development and the lack of relevant information necessary for working together. When people don't work together, it can be unintentional, as their determination to advance their own goals leaves them little energy to think about what other people might need. Or the way the systems are set up in the organization does not allow the right information to flow to the right people and support effective collaboration.

Basically there are two types of cooperation in every organization: horizontal and vertical. Horizontal involves collaboration between peers. The vertical is the collaboration between each individual and their direct reports. The systemic change that promotes collaboration requires assignment of responsibility for collaboration in both cases. Here's how to do it.

Related Topics: & # 39; The Alignment Factor & # 39 ;: the map to help you maintain alignment

Cross-functional collaboration

Take into account all of the key performance indicators (KPIs) in your company and ask your team who should be held accountable for each individual's performance. In other words, who is the person who has the greatest direct impact on improving this indicator? When we say the person with the greatest direct impact, we mean the person who has the authority and the leeway to do something right away. This person would be at the lowest appropriate level in the organization. Once identified, the next questions are: who has an indispensable influence on the performance of this indicator? And who are the key people who can also influence the indicator and who are indispensable for its success? Several people with different functions are identified. For example, if the KPI is money sales, the seller is the one who controls and has the greatest influence on this indicator, and those who have an indispensable influence are the marketing manager, the production manager, and the shipping manager. All of these people should share responsibility for the performance of the indicator, with one person acting as the driver and the other acting as indispensable influencers.

In this way you identify the team that is taking care of the indicator and therefore need to work together. If the indicator performs well, the entire team is congratulated. When performance is poor, the entire team is expected to come together and develop and implement a creative action plan. During implementation, they should meet on a regular basis of reflection and learning and adjust the action plan as needed until the desired outcome is achieved.

The same questions can be asked for every KPI in your company, resulting in a driver for every KPI as well as some indispensable influencers. By the time you have completed this exercise, you will have defined the responsibilities for the driver of each indicator and influencer and defined the teams of people required to work together.

We recommend that you invite people from various functions to participate. The following conversations are of great value in themselves. You clarify the roles of your employees and this clarity is the key to initiating a culture of collaboration in the company that promotes horizontal alignment.

Collaboration between levels

For companies with multiple management levels, collaboration between them is also important. The greater the number of levels, the more you should pay attention to vertical alignment. The way you assign responsibility for vertical alignment is similar to that described above. Take each KPI and, if you've already identified the driver at the lowest appropriate level in your company, identify their delta influencers i.e. H. The one who has the delta influence of a manager who complements that of the driver.

Suppose you are the driver of the monetary turnover. They are likely to have the most direct impact on increasing sales. Your boss has more wiggle room and can add his or her extra influence beyond what you can do. If he's sitting with you to discuss how to increase your sales, instead of just pushing you to sell more, he should consider what he can do that you can't. Managers at any level generally have delta influence in three areas: the resources to which they have access; the relationships to which they have access; and broader decision-making power. Using his resources, relationships and decision-making skills, he can help you improve your KPI. This is the type of collaboration we are referring to. Depending on the number of levels you have, two to five people can have a Delta Influence, and among them one or two have an indispensable Delta Influence.

At every management level, collaboration is required both downwards and upwards. The vertical line goes in both directions. The managers with delta influence support the driver of a KPI. This refers to the downside collaboration. Upward collaboration is when the drivers of KPIs help their boss improve his KPI. Support could include providing creative input to the boss's action plans to improve his numbers. Such input is valuable because it comes from the experience of the driver who is closer to the front of the operation. The vertical alignment is ensured by promoting mutual cooperation between these levels.

The role of information

Information is power. It shouldn't be the privilege of just a few. Cooperation requires the free flow of information to all who need to receive it. The driver and the influencers of the KPI must have access to the same information at the same time. Advanced data systems are available in most organizations, but sometimes access is only theoretical. It is important to ensure that the relevant data is sent in both push and pull mode. In other words, not only should you give them access, you should assume that they are looking for the information they need, but also provide them with the relevant information as a notification without having to extract it from the data systems.

Related: & # 39; The Alignment Factor & # 39 ;: Focus on Success

Opportunity to implement change

The world is learning new ways of working. The need for cooperation and reciprocity is increased. You have the opportunity to implement a new approach in your company that contributes significantly to achieving a higher level of success. The new way includes the systematization of cooperation. It's about embedding collaboration in the responsibility of everyone in your company and making collaboration more attractive than just gaining a goal. Just like in sports, teams with only individually thinking players cannot win the game. Encourage your company's employees to work together and work as a successful team.

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