Strategic alignment: definition, implementation and benefits

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 6 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Most organisations have objectives and goals that they want to achieve in the long term. An important part of an organisation's success and continuity is aligning its strategies and policies with these goals. Knowing how to align your strategies in this way can help you to develop achievable goals and encourage unity where you work. In this article, we explain what strategic alignment is, how you can integrate this into your work and list some of the key benefits of aligning your strategies.

What is strategic alignment?

Strategic alignment is the practice of integrating an organisation's goals into your strategies and objectives. By doing so, you align your work and that of others with important organisational goals. When an organisation has managed to achieve this, all of its various departments and personnel are jointly contributing to the achievement of its goals. Moreover, this is often a conscious effort, whereby everyone understands their work in the context of these goals. When implemented throughout an organisation, the organisation itself becomes a strategically aligned one.

This is something that you can implement as a business decision-maker, manager, team leader or even as an individual employee. It simply requires that you understand the organisation's goals and can adapt your work and processes to help achieve these. Naturally, aligning work strategically works best when everyone in the organisation can agree on what the goals are and the best strategies for achieving them.

Related: What is the difference between goals and objectives?

How to implement strategic alignment at work

You can start to implement or encourage strategic alignment at work in various ways, depending on your position in the organisation in which you're working. In many cases, working in relevant roles such as decision making, leadership or human resources can allow you to implement this much more effectively, but you can still take steps if your work is unrelated. In this case, you can lead by example and try to generate change through your own work. If you want to strategically align the organisation in which you're working, consider following the steps below:

1. Understand the organisation's goals

The first step to successfully aligning your strategies with the organisation's goals is to understand these goals. The founders of an organisation typically develop these goals when they first establish them, although they can develop and change over time. You can find this information in the organisation's mission and vision, goals and current strategies. Many companies publish this information on their websites and elsewhere, so it's usually quite easy to find, especially if you work there.

In some cases, the published versions of these can be somewhat brief and lack detailed information. If you want a more in-depth understanding, consider asking to meet those in the company who understands its goals better. These could be its leaders, human resources personnel or important stakeholders. Try to prepare some in-depth questions prior to a meeting like this so that you know what to ask. For instance, you could ask about the differences between the company's short-term, medium-term and long-term goals. You can also ask about the company's policies on social responsibility and related matters.

Related: Guide: what is strategic planning? (With benefits and steps)

2. Share these goals with others

Once you've managed to understand and clarify the organisation's goals, you can begin to share this information with others that work there. For strategic alignment to be effective, it's best when everybody knows what goals they're aligning their work with. A good way of doing this is to carefully read through all of the information that you've gathered, including that which you gained from any meetings with key individuals. You can then write a summary document that clearly explains what these goals are so that anyone can understand them. Then, you can start to disseminate this throughout the organisation.

You can do this by sending it to people in emails or through similar means. A better approach might be to arrange meetings or other interactive scenarios where you can share this summary and encourage people to ask questions. This is perhaps something that the human resources department would be capable of arranging, so it can be a good idea to speak with them to see what's possible. The important thing is that as many people as possible within the organisation understand these goals and their importance to the organisation.

3. Adapt work processes

The next step is to make changes to existing work processes so that they better align with the organisation's goals. If you're not yourself in a leadership or decision-making position, it's a good idea to engage with these individuals to find ways of doing this. This can include redefining certain roles in the organisation and adapting departmental objectives to become more aligned with overarching organisational goals.

For example, you may have discovered an aspect of your company's goals that emphasises the need for sustainability when pursuing business objectives. Key individuals who handle external suppliers, procurement and production processes might then alter some of their practices and inputs to use recycled or recyclable materials. This could also extend to transportation and other activities.

Related: Guide to workflow: definition, components, processes and uses

4. Incentivise participation

Successful strategy alignment works best when many people within an organisation participate, rather than just its leaders. You can partly achieve this by simply increasing awareness through the dissemination of informative materials. If certain elements of the organisation's goals contain policies or ideas that others can appreciate, then many employees may contribute to this. This includes things like social responsibility and sustainability. With other goals that have more benefits for the organisation itself, you might consider added incentives to persuade others to participate.

These incentives can be simple acknowledgements of effort and high performance, either for individuals or teams of people. In addition to acknowledgement, you can also offer some tangible rewards. For instance, for individuals who've contributed notably to the organisation's strategy, you could offer monetary rewards, like bonuses or gifts, to show appreciation.

5. Monitor progress

An important part of this sort of alignment is to determine the effect it has on the organisation. How you do this depends on the nature of the goals with which you're aligning. For instance, if you can derive quantifiable objectives from your goals, you might consider developing specific metrics to measure progress towards them. Returning to the example of sustainability, you could calculate the proportion of recycled or recyclable materials that the organisation uses and monitor how this improves over time. You can also gather this information on specific departments and use this to grant incentives.

Benefits of strategic alignment

Aligning an organisation's strategies and policies brings many benefits, both for the organisation and its personnel. Some of the key benefits of this are as follows:

Intra-organisational unity

Aligning strategies with organisational goals can help give everyone a sense of purpose. This is because it allows people to understand their work in the context of a broader mission. To achieve this, more personnel might work collaboratively since they have a common understanding of their work. A benefit of this is a greater understanding between departments and personnel, which can be beneficial for organisational unity.

Related: Creating a healthy corporate culture

More effective monitoring and reporting

It's much easier to evaluate the effectiveness of a strategy if you can see how it's contributing towards a goal. Strategic alignment often involves developing achievable objectives from these goals, and you can then create metrics for measuring progress. This allows the organisation to more effectively evaluate its own success and progress through reporting and monitoring.

Better planning

Just as alignment can help you improve your evaluation of organisational performance, it can also help you develop better plans for achieving key goals and objectives in the future. You can combine past and present information to identify what's actually feasible in the foreseeable future, which can give you options for how to proceed. By combining this with strategically aligned objectives, you can develop plans that are both achievable and contribute to organisational goals.

Related: What is material requirements planning? (With benefits)

Greater efficiency

Efficiency is the optimal use of input resources to produce your desired outputs. A significant aspect of this is the reduction of waste. Strategically aligned objectives can help you identify specific targets and outputs that you want to meet. From this, you can derive your desired outputs and what their requirements are. You can then reevaluate organisational processes on this basis to determine if there are any activities that aren't effectively contributing to your goals. By adapting or removing these unnecessary processes and practices, you can positively impact organisational efficiency.

Related:

  • Successful strategy implementation: a manager's guide



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