When organizations seek consultants or coaches to help them reach new goals, create new strategies, or pull themselves out of a slump, often they find they have become out of alignment. Like a vehicle, if an organization’s alignment is out of whack, it won’t run well; departments, teams, leaders, and individuals will wear down; and eventually, the entire organization could break and need to be scrapped. When an organization’s leaders find the organization is out of alignment and they fix the problem in time, the organization begins to run well again and can catch new and previous customers’ eyes with its new organizational glory.
Organizational alignment is a fun topic for me because it
comes back to proper strengths usage.
When someone first decides to create an organization, that
person builds on the strengths, skills, and talents the individual has and
considers how the founder’s strengths can balance a weakness in the marketplace.
At that moment, the organization is in complete alignment with what the
individual can offer that the marketplace needs.
As the organization grows, it adds new people, new
perspectives, and new opportunities. If new employees, however, do not know or
understand the strengths of the founders or how the new employees’ strengths
truly can enhance the vision of the founder, employees rarely use their full
potentials and their fully gamut of strengths to help an organization. This lack
of engaging all of one’s strengths is not a lack of interest in engaging with
the company; it is a lack of understanding – either from the employees or from
their supervisors – how to employ the diversity within each individual to add
to the overall organization.
When an organization’s hiring team chooses a new employee,
that team chooses an employee based on the job description as it has been done
in the past, some sort of vision regarding how the job can be done, and whether
or not the person will fit into the culture of the organization. Occasionally,
organizations become homogeneous as they continue to find people who fit into
the existing culture. A homogeneous culture can become stagnant and create a culture
unto itself that may or may not be aligned with the original mission and vision
of the organization. A homogenous culture can create innovation and diversity
by recognizing individuals’ strengths and helping those individuals engage
their strengths in new ways to help the organization. This can create a
realignment with the organization’s original mission, original vision, and
As an organization embraces and engages the strengths of the
individuals, the individuals’ strengths become the organization’s strengths. For
example, if an organization has a department focused on customer service, the department
leader can work with the individuals within the department to learn how each
individual interfaces with customers, how each individual builds rapport, which
individuals do well in writing, which do well in person, which individuals habitually
brainstorm new ways to promote products or solve problems, which individuals
have been organizational customers, and so forth. Then, engage the strengths of
the individuals to enhance every customer’s experience and to help other employees
learn new approaches. These individual strengths then become organizational
strengths as they feed into the culture and the customer experience.
After learning about the individuals and their professional
strengths, learn about the individuals in their lives outside of work. What do
they get excited to do in their off time? Why? What have they done to become
good at particular hobbies? What drew them to their hobbies? How can the skills
from those hobbies demonstrate other strengths the individuals have that may
not be used at work today, but could be used tomorrow? How could their hobbies
directly improve the organization?
Be aware, when you first focus on bringing out people’s
strengths in new ways in your organization, even if people love the idea, there
will be resistance. It’s not necessarily stating that the effort isn’t a wise
choice; it’s simply because even an uncomfortable comfort zone is a comfort
zone. It will take time to engage strengths. It will take effort not to fall
back into old behaviors. It will take conscious determination to change the
culture to seek and engage every person’s individual strengths in new ways.
Some people will resist the change to the point of leaving the organization –
whether of their own accord or management’s choice. Recognize that their strengths
might be used better elsewhere. Perhaps organizational leadership can find new
ways in retrospect to use strengths of those who choose to leave.
Recognize the mission and vision of the organization. Align
employee strengths to create organizational strengths. Continue to grow, adapt,
Know your strengths. Own your strengths. Build on your