If you’re like a lot of teams, you’re spending a lot of time right now setting goals for next year. And if you’re like a lot of teams, chances are good that those goals might be knocked aside next year when other projects, priorities, and metrics push their way in. But while it sometimes does make strategic sense to set aside a set of goals for new priorities, often when that happens it’s because team members and their managers are simply out of alignment with each other.
Here’s a good test of whether alignment problems are cropping up on your team: Spend a few minutes jotting down what the two or three most important things are for each of your team members to accomplish next year, or even just in the next quarter. Then, without showing them your list, ask each team member what they would say are their two or three most important priorities for that same period. If your answers match up, great. But on a lot of teams, this will reveal core misalignment about what’s most important for each person to accomplish.
Then, go one step further and do the same exercise with your own boss. Are you aligned there as well?
What you want to end up with is alignment up and down, where everyone’s goals and vision for their role tightly lines up with the company’s goals and visions, where no significant chunks of time are being spent on activities that don’t align to broader business goals, and where each person understands how their work ties into larger objectives.
If you don’t find that, the good news is that you’ve now surfaced the problem and can figure out where the misalignment is happening:
Once you see misalignment, it’s much easier to dig into where it’s coming from and get people back on the same page, and to then continue checking in regularly to make sure the problems don’t crop back up. But it’s crucial to take that first step of checking whether it’s there or not to begin with. That’s the step too many managers skip, so vow not to let that be you!
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