So much of how we work together relies on one thing: everyone lands on the same page.
But finding team alignment isn’t as easy as it seems. Some team members might have conflicting or competing priorities. Others might have misaligned goals or objectives. Still, others might be juggling hefty workloads with stretched bandwidth.
It’s not easy to get everyone aligned to common goals with shared priorities. But as anyone in the workplace knows, getting things done relies on team unity. As a leader, team alignment is the lever to increased productivity, performance, and employee engagement. Strategically, it’s a business imperative to align your organization. But it’s much easier said than done.
At BetterUp, we hold a series of high-impact behaviors that help guide how we work together. One of our key high-impact behaviors is called organize to win. The idea? To align our people, teams, systems, and workstreams to better set and reach our goals.
In this article, we’ll talk about what defines team alignment. We’ll take a look at examples of team alignment in the workplace — and we’ll outline ways you can get your team on the same page in your organization.
What is team alignment?
First, let’s start by defining team alignment.
What is team alignment?
Team alignment is the idea that each team and/or team member within the workforce collaborate to work toward a shared goal. When teams are aligned, communication, collaboration, productivity, and efficiency thrive.
Team alignment is more than just teamwork. While collaborating on key initiatives is key, team alignment takes collaboration and teamwork to the next level.
An aligned team:
- Has shared team goals that help provide direction
- Understands priorities and the importance of decision-making
- Puts the team goals and/or organizational goals ahead of individual goals
- Relies on strategic planning to help enhance collaboration and execution of tasks
- Eliminates silos that tend to happen within organizations
- Works cross-team to build trust and solid working relationships
- Works to resolve team conflict professionally
- Has inclusive team leaders and fosters a deep sense of belonging
- Uses employee recognition regularly to boost morale and team motivation
4 benefits of team alignment
The importance of team alignment can often be seen in the benefits. We’ve outlined four benefits of team alignment that speak for themselves.
- Increased business performance. Employee engagement as a result of team alignment has a positive ripple effect across the business. The same data from Gallup cites that engaged teams that work well together see 21% higher profitability. This cohesiveness can actually impact your organizational performance and ultimately, your bottom line.
- A better employee experience. Organizations aren’t the only ones to benefit from team alignment. Aligned teams make for a better employee experience for the individual. When teams communicate and work well together, it’s a more enjoyable and productive experience.
- Increased employee retention. All-in-all, these benefits bundle themselves into one key outcome: aligned teams want to stick around. According to Gallup, teams that work well together see a 24% decrease in employee turnover.
3 pain points that can be addressed with team alignment
As any working professional knows, there are plenty of pain points that come with working with teams. But team alignment can actually serve as a buffer and a deterrent to some of the key issues you may be experiencing.
- Misalignment of key priorities and OKRs. One big pain point that often arises in organizations is misaligned priorities and goals. But when team alignment enters the picture, your organization is better equipped to set company goals or OKRs. By doing so, it helps to keep your entire workforce focused on priorities.
- Conflict in the workplace. Let’s face it: conflict in the workplace is unavoidable. And truth be told, not all conflict is bad or unproductive. But without team alignment, you risk increased team conflict.
When employees don’t understand what shared priorities and goals they should be working toward, it’s likely they’ll start to prioritize individual goals. That type of setting is ripe for conflict. As a result, you risk your employees’ productivity, efficiency, and engagement.
- Absent or flimsy goal-setting framework. Another big pain point is a nonexistent goal-setting framework. But with team alignment, organizations are better equipped to strategically plan. This helps to set goals that will have the biggest impact on your business.
- A lack of communication, especially with remote teams. Team alignment hinges on solid communication skills, especially within remote teams. With the rise of asynchronous communication tools, it’s more important than ever to reach team alignment. This is especially true for remote and hybrid teams.
How to improve team alignment at work
If you’re ready to improve your team alignment in the workplace, here are five steps to help you get started.
1. Reflect and identify your purpose
Before you start to set goals and milestones, root down in your purpose. What’s the purpose of your team’s work? How is your purpose showing up in the day-to-day operations? In what ways can you make sure your employees understand their role in the purpose of work?
2. Firm up a goal-setting framework
In order to align a team to a goal, you need a solid goal-setting framework. Many companies use objectives and key results (OKRs).
Others might use other strategies or tactics to help ensure team collaboration. Whatever framework you choose to use, make sure it works for you. What are the most important goals that will have the biggest impact? How are you measuring those goals? What’s the best way to set team goals for your workforce?
3. Communicate — both well and often
By now, you’ve done two things. First, you’ve identified your purpose. Second, you’ve set goals. Now, it’s time to communicate them to your workforce.
Work with your internal communication team to communicate your company-wide goals and purpose. Your workforce needs to fully understand the goals at hand and their role in reaching them.
4. Have regular one-on-one meetings
As your team members work to meet the goals you’ve set, make sure you’re checking. Set regular one-on-one meetings to keep tabs on the progress. Promote transparency in the workplace to help ensure information is distributed across functions and teams.
5. Embed alignment into your company culture
Lastly, think about ways you can embed team alignment into your company culture. For example, as we mentioned, ‘organize to win’ is a key high-impact behavior at BetterUp. It’s embedded in our intentions, actions, and culture — even down to how we organize our files.
How are you promoting collaboration over competition? In what ways can you bring team alignment even deeper into your company culture?
Best practices for leaders to foster team alignment
Leaders play a key role in reaching team alignment. So, when it comes to putting team alignment into practice, here are four tips for leaders to keep in mind.
Practice inclusive leadership
Your team members are more than just employees. They’re also people with personal lives, diverse backgrounds, unique experiences, and more. Your people show up to work as their whole selves every day, which means it’s more important than ever to model inclusive leadership.
When leaders practice inclusive leadership, both the business and employees benefit. With inclusive leadership, we’ve found that employees are 50% more productive, 90% more innovative, and 150% more engaged. Inclusive leadership also results in 54% lower employee turnover.
Promote transparent and open communication
Clear and transparent communication is a must-have tool for any leader. But when promoting team alignment, it’s important that your managers lead by example.
Promote transparent and open communication, especially as it relates to projects, company goals, and deadlines. Especially when projects go off track (because they will), lead by example. Be open and vulnerable about the roadblocks along the way. It’ll help to prompt your team members to do the same when they inevitably hit their own roadblocks.
Prioritize collaboration over competition
While a healthy dose of competition can be beneficial in the workplace, it should never come before teamwork. Think of how you can promote collaboration over competition.
At BetterUp, we talk about being a BetterUp Citizen and BetterUp Owner. It’s an idea that we, as employees, all have a responsibility to put the company’s strategy and goals first.
Create a psychologically safe working environment
In order for your employees to work well together, they need to feel like they belong. To go hand-in-hand with inclusive leadership, build a psychologically safe work environment.
Invest in building trust with your employees. For leaders, start that process from the get-go in new manager training. The more your employees feel safe and trusted, the more likely they are to succeed and reach their goals.
Maintaining aligned teams in virtual and hybrid workplaces
Our way of working has rapidly changed over the last few years. With the rise of hybrid and remote work, your organization might be feeling some pain points. We’ve outlined three best practices to optimize organizational alignment within remote and hybrid teams.
Use asynchronous communication to your advantage
With a lack of in-person communication, asynchronous communication tools like Slack are on the rise. Use these tools to your advantage to help keep lines of communication open and transparent.
At BetterUp, we use Slack for both team and project-based communication. It’s a great way to help capture key communication in between the one-on-one meetings and check-ins. It also helps to keep team members on track to reach their goals.
Facilitate meaningful connections
Connections matter more than you think. BetterUp Labs studied the impact of connections in the workplace. When employees are connected to one another, both the business and the individual benefit.
Highly connected employees see a 36% increase in goal attainment, a 59% increase in positive relationships, and a 92% increase in professional growth. Highly connected employees also see a boost in overall well-being.
Coach your teams
Every team — regardless of hybrid, remote, or in-person — needs support. Develop your coaching skills to help coach your team to success.
With BetterUp, you can reap the benefits of coaching in the workplace. Your teams will see increased productivity, better business performance, and see increased goal attainment. Just some of the benefits of coaching include:
- 3.3X increase in strategic planning for those who start out low
- 3.2X increase in focus for those who start out low
- 34% increase in engagement for those who start out low
- 2.3X increase in job performance for those who start out low
- 35% decrease in burnout for those who start out low
- 90% increase in stress management for those who start out low
Think of ways coaching can help unlock your workforce’s full potential. With access to virtual coaching, you can keep your team aligned on the goals that matter most. Together, we can help your workforce thrive.