5 clues that your company is suffering from team misalignment

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Creating alignment in your teams is one of the most important responsibilities of a Founder or CEO. You do this by being crystal clear on your purpose (why your company exists), vision (the future you wish to see) and mission (how you plan to get to that vision), and making sure that all three are well understood across your entire business. Once you’ve nailed this, you’re ready to reap the rewards of being aligned — for example, research by LSA Global found that highly aligned companies are 72% more profitable than their misaligned counterparts. Kaching.

Even though this might seem obvious, getting your teams aligned isn’t the easiest thing to do, and it can be even harder to maintain alignment across the long term, especially as teams grow and become more complex.

What can help is an understanding of the symptoms of a misaligned team, as this can help us spot when we might be in a misalignment mess and take action accordingly.

So the purpose of this piece is to help you do just that. Below you’ll find a list of the top 5 clues to look out for when trying to determine whether your teams are misaligned and you’ve got some work to do!

Clue 1: Missed milestones

Is missing key deadlines and targets a recurring theme for your business? Are dependencies between teams slowing down delivery? This could be a sign of misalignment. When teams lack clarity on strategic goals or they don’t have an understanding of the company’s top priorities, they’re unable to assess their role within these parameters. This can lead to apathy and damage motivation levels because teams start asking themselves, “What’s the point?” But giving people a clear sense of purpose and vision for the business, and getting specific on the goals and objectives that’ll get you there, gives people an anchor and a North Star; the former helps them feel grounded and secure and the latter inspires them to move forward and contribute to business success.

Clue 2: Lack of engagement

Is getting people to speak up in team meetings like trying to draw blood from a stone? Does it sometimes feel like nobody cares anymore, except for you? If you’re nodding your head, it sounds like you might have an engagement issue. In order to be engaged, your people need to feel as through they are valued, respected and that they’re contributing to something worthwhile and meaningful. However, it’s pretty hard to do that if there’s nothing to align their efforts to. As humans, we’re wired for connection and belonging but we need a glue to hold us together and, in a company, that’s your purpose and values. Being open about the company’s near- and long-term aspirations also helps people to connect to the progress the company is making an any given time and comprehend how their individual roles contribute to this.

Clue 3: Siloed teams

Do you see a lot of cross-collaboration between your teams or do people tend to stick to their functional areas? If you’re leaning towards the latter then this could be attributed to the fact that your teams may not be closely aligned around a shared purpose, vision and mission. When this is the case, it’s easier for people to focus on their own area of expertise and the goals surrounding their specific role, rather than considering the bigger picture. People don’t like uncertainty and even the most risk-taking of us will try to minimise it whenever we can. Engaging with different teams can often feel like going into the unknown when you don’t have a cause binding you together. It’s easier to stick to what you know as there’s safety in silos.

Clue 4: Different priorities

Does it feel like your leadership team all want different things? Do you worry that the business is being pulled in different directions? In order to be successful, it’s vital that leadership teams are closely aligned around a single, primary focus and that each member understands how their respective teams support this. If your leadership team doesn’t agree on the company priorities, this is a big red flag. This will filter down to your teams and can lead to internal competition and unnecessary conflict. You’ll have little hope of delivering on time and in budget under these circumstances.

Clue 5: Lack of autonomy

Ever feel like you wish your teams could be more proactive? Are you tired of feeling like you always have to tell people what to do? When your people don’t know what the company priorities are, it’s really hard for them to contribute to its success proactively. This is because they won’t have a clear understanding of what good looks like and so can’t make informed decisions about the best course of action. This can result in people shutting down or refusing to use their initiative due to the fear of getting it wrong. No one wants to feel like their doing a bad job so it’s much easier to avoid doing anything and save yourself the shame of making a mistake.

If any of these misalignment symptoms resonate with you, you might be thinking, “What do I do now?” The simple answer is to get to work on revising your purpose, vision and mission. You can find some great tools to help you do that in our free ebook, ‘WTF is purpose’, which you can download here. Or get in touch with us at The Future Kind Collective to talk about how we can help you!

About the author

Nat is one of two co-founders at The Future Kind Collective which exists to build a world that is kinder, fairer and more creative, where all people have the opportunity to do great things.

Nat is a purpose-driven strategist, empathetic people leader, designer of cultures, services and companies. She is passionate about lifetime learning, compassionate leadership and inclusive cultures.

Nat started her career in digital strategy, where she applied service design to the strategic development of the NatWest mobile banking app. In 2016, she joined SPARCK, a design consultancy, as their third employee, where she was influential in shaping and growing it into a mature organisation.

Throughout her consultancy career, Nat has led projects with varied clients including Insights, Amnesty International, BP, Vocalink (of MasterCard), DVSA, Fidelity, HSBC, ITV and Pizza Hut.

About The Future Kind Collective

The Future Kind Collective is a purpose-driven consultancy which exists to build a world that is kinder, fairer and more creative, where all people have the opportunity to do great things.

We help start-ups and scale-ups to grow faster and more sustainably by defining their purpose, designing their culture and growing their impact, while also embedding the skills they need to unlock their potential.

We’re here to challenge the existing consultancy model and prove that by putting people and purpose first, you can create businesses that are more profitable, impactful and equitable.

To find out more or to chat over a challenge you’re grappling with, get in touch at hello@thefuturekind.co

We’d love to hear from you!

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Natalie Pearce

Natalie Pearce

〰️ Co-founder: The Future Kind Collective 〰️ We help companies to grow faster by defining their purpose, designing their culture and growing their impact