Align Behaviors with Goals and Values: Apply consistent practices to move the organization in a positive direction.
As each principle works together to build a best place to work culture in organizations, alignment to goals and values is the grease necessary for all organizations who want to sustain success or continue improving their results. Alignment is related to Principle 7: Be Accountable. When we are aligned, we can be counted on by our leaders, direct reports and colleagues. When misalignment occurs the effects to an organization’s results can be costly. Even small misalignments can have a ripple effect that becomes cumulative and detrimental to reaching goals.
For values to be living, our behaviors must exemplify them every day. Because our values are aligned to what’s most important to us as individuals and the organization, we don’t want values to be words just sitting on a shelf. We want to see our values come to life in our interactions with colleagues and customers. If we are all aligning our behaviors to the organization’s goals and values, we are all executing our work with a focus on what’s most important, and therefore, accelerating our results.
An organization’s values serve as a guide to employees for what behaviors are expected of them and how those behaviors lead to the execution of their goals. For example, in Principle 3: Build a Culture Around Service, we provided an example of Studer Education’s team standards of practice. For Amazing Service, we have defined that one way to live our standard is to communicate warmly and positively with others using VIP treatment. We know when we all do this, we are behaving consistently to move the organization towards our goals.
When a leader or colleague notices someone’s behavior violates the organization’s values, it’s helpful to engage this individual in a conversation about their actions. When we avoid addressing these occurrences, we send a message that the violation is acceptable. The values of an organization set the expectations, if they are violated, alignment can’t exist and they begin to lose their meaning. High performing organizations have strong values that support and maintain the high performing culture.
Our job as leaders, with our focus on goals and where the team is heading, is to communicate our vision, goals and the direction of the team. Alignment can only be reached when each individual fully understands the vision, how their behaviors and actions align to the goal and what is expected of them. Leaders accomplish this by activating the strategic plan, leading short cycles of planning, hosting quarterly strategy sessions and empowering ownership of organizational goals. This effective, consistent communication from leadership aligns all individuals in an organization to goals and values.
Impact During a Crisis
One of the most critical pieces we had in place as we worked very quickly over two school days to shift to virtual – every single member on our team, everyone from our district team, to principals in buildings, to curriculum chairs – everyone shows up asking: how can we make this work, what’s the next step we need to take? I really think it’s the basis of our service excellence to each other and our community. – Casey Blochowiak, Director of Curriculum and Learning, School District of Menomonee Falls | EP 76: Make Decisions that Sustain People and Build Relationships
In the quote above, Casey is explaining that their value of service excellence is what led to individuals across the school system working together to navigate the crisis. The alignment to behaviors and goals in crisis times provides a backbone for decision making and collaborative work when stress and emotions are high. If we are consistently living our values through our behaviors, we don’t have to spend time aligning people in a crisis because they are already aligned.
If the organization has a culture of siloed thinking and barriers between departments, or even buildings, it can be a challenge to create solutions and communicate clearly to successfully navigate a crisis. The most successful organizations encourage communication and information sharing outside of specific teams and departments.
One of the areas we’ve been successful with is really facing the brutal facts and meeting them together as a team.mOur executive team has been amazing at facing hard truths together— showing up authentically in those conversations and saying: this is really hard. We have to do this, but this is the right thing to do—making decisions even when it’s hard. That seems like it should be simple to do, but in times of disarray and remote work, it’s easy to leave things out. – Sabrina Hebeler, Chief of Staff | EP 78: Ask the Right Questions
With the COVID-19 pandemic employees, teachers and students were forced to quickly transition to virtual work and learning. Had silos been present in Sabrina’s experience, their leadership team wouldn’t have faced hard truths together in an authentic way to make the best decisions for the organization. MSU IPF is successful because their leaders can focus on what’s most important for the entire organization, not just one building or initiative. The organizations that put in the work to break down barriers and silos before this particular crisis hit were more prepared to navigate in a virtual world, where as Sabrina noted, it’s already easy to leave things out.
Our teams can feel a difference when we are all aligned and committed to the values and goals of the organization. People know that they can trust their colleagues and their leader to be accountable for their work, make the best decisions and achieve success together. Especially during times of crisis, the result of this consistency and stability is invaluable to the people that work for us.
The trust that we’ve built was very evident, with our executive team in particular. There’s so much honesty and directness that when we were under that intensity and the time schedule we were on people just spoke their truth and that was remarkable. People weren’t holding back. They knew this was too big to fail. – Corey Golla, Superintendent, School District of Menomonee Falls | EP 70: Cultivate a Can-Do Culture
Can your team tell you the organization’s goals for the year? Have you had one-on-one conversations with your team members aligning their actions to the goals of the organization? Identify where your team may be experiencing misalignment to goals or values. Then, determine what you can do to align all team members.
EP 76: Make Decisions that Sustain People and Build Relationships
with Casey Blochowiak
EP 78: Ask the Right Questions
with Sabrina Hebeler
EP 70: Cultivate a Can-Do Culture
with Corey Golla