4 Steps To Achieve Strategic Alignment

4 Steps To Achieve Strategic Alignment
Summary: This article looks at 4 steps to building a strategic Training and Development program within a growing company. Without effective strategic alignment, a company is limiting its speed of growth and effectiveness.

Strategic Alignment: How To Build A Killer Training Program Before Business Kills You

The business is growing and hiring at a blistering pace. Customers love the product and demand has eclipsed supply. Everything is going great. But, at the same time, the by-product of success has become nerve-wracking. There is increased competitive pressure and employee fragmentation. These two realities have caused concern about the effective sustainability of the success. Success is like blood in shark infested waters: It attracts competition at an alarming rate. In order to fend off competition and maintain success, many companies expand within the market faster than others in order to gain a larger foothold. In many cases, this works. However, the rapid growth creates an employee base that has a wide variation of skills and focus. This can cause the company’s strategic alignment to resemble a freeway interchange maze with employees headed in an infinite number of directions.

The good news is that with some thought, planning, and competent leadership, this challenge can be turned into a strategic weapon. Imagine a corporate focus where all the employees are strategically aligned behind the company’s strategy, direction, and plan of execution. This is very possible and it all starts with effective leadership and corporate development. Since the company is creating prominence for itself in the marketplace, we’ll assume the executive leadership team is well established and effective. Thus, focus should be on how to align the larger employee base as a whole.

It is important to look at the 4 core steps to achieve strategic alignment by building a killer Training and Development program within a growing company:

1. Task The Head Of HR With Assembling A Leadership Development Program Focused On Building Strategic Alignment

In many cases, move a step or two down the organization chart and it will quickly become apparent that some managers have only a foggy idea of the strategy and what it will take to execute. Even worse, at a level or two below management many employees don’t know what the corporate strategy is, how they fit into it, or how to help execute the strategy. Creating a leadership development program for the more senior managers within the organization will expose them to business acumen and leadership competency, and teach lower level employees the business acumen skills needed to execute the overall corporate strategy. Without these basic skills, there’s a high probability they are "winging it" and figuring things out as they go.

2. Apply The Leadership Development Training Content Directly To The Company’s Business Outcomes

Generally speaking, this means that training is going to need to be kicked up a notch. The leadership development program is going to have to challenge the participants at a very deep level to harness the skills of leadership behavior, strategic fundamentals, and of business acumen. Most importantly, the training is going to have to involve action learning to garner attention and provide feedback in real-time. Utilizing tools such as business simulations, customized case studies with actual quantitative data, and much more is necessary in today’s work environment. The topics need to be real, highly applicable and exceptionally challenging for the participants. At the end of the leadership program, the participants should go home feeling completely exhausted and mentally drained. This can only be achieved through an in-depth focus on real world application to their jobs.

3. Demonstrate The Effectiveness Of The Business And The Participants' Role

Lofty assumptions of “I promise this will have a positive effect” are empty and hard for employees to grasp. Engaging the training participants in exercises that demonstrate the financial or market growth impact is essential. Even more essential is the ability of the training to demonstrate the direct impact (whether positive or negative) on the participant’s role within the company. Example: Effective budgeting, personnel, and leadership results in greater quality, more productivity, lower employee attrition, and greater customer satisfaction. There is a wide variety of inexpensive tools that can be tailored to align with existing training programs in order to align leadership development with business outcomes.

4. Always Assess And Track Strategic Effectiveness

After delivering a live training application, it is important to track the effectiveness and continually apply and refine. There is no need to utilize expensive packages to do this, but there are some basic analytics that need to be tracked. Most companies can accomplish these by using Google Docs spreadsheets and forms.

Before participants take the leadership course, ask them a few simple questions such as: How well do you know the company’s strategy? Do you have the tools to effectively manage a P&L (Profit and Loss statement)? How well do you know the leadership behaviors we expect within our company? Of course, it helps to go deeper, but everyone has to start somewhere. Put the participants through the leadership course and give them the same form upon completion. This will create solid before and after data for management to compare. Create a spreadsheet of the data and then, two weeks post-training, survey the participants about what additional information they would have found beneficial from the training. Track the information in order to refine and improve.

Final Thought

By applying this formula of strategically aligned training with hands on applicability to all training programs, a company will find the Training and Development programs become an effective strategic weapon for most any growing company. Effective strategic alignment is crucial; creating action learning that applies the leadership training content directly back to the business is the best way to align the organization behind the corporate strategy.