If an organization is to be successful, all of its individual parts must be aligned towards the same goals. Yet in many organizations, especially larger ones, it can be difficult for an individual employee to see or know how his or her work contributes to the organization’s success. And oftentimes individual contributors in different teams or departments do not know how their coworkers add value to the organization. This creates a disconnect among the different parts of the machine.
When employees understand how their work connects to both the organization’s achievements and the work of other teams, it can create a sense of unity, purpose, and meaning that drives engagement and performance. When employees lack clarity about their contributions to the organization’s success, it can lead to employees feeling unsatisfied, disengaged, and less committed to the organization.
So how do we ensure that members of the organization feel connected to the organization and one another? How do you get everyone moving forward together to realize the organization’s success?
- Articulate an exciting vision. As any good leader will do to gather followers, the organization must present a clear and compelling vision for the company to all employees. They should all understand the goals, values, and vision of success for the organization, and they should be on board with pursuing that vision. This is the endgame that everyone is working towards, the common goal that unites everyone in the organization.
- Use performance management. It is important that individual employees and teams feel that the work they do is contributing to the organization’s mission. If the metrics for evaluating an individual contributor’s performance are based solely on that individual’s workflow, it can be difficult for the individual to understand why his or her work matters to the company. However, if an individual’s objectives and performance indicators are derived from the organization’s strategic plan, the ties between the employee and the organization become clearer and more definitive. Organizations should look at their strategic and programmatic goals, and use those to determine the work of each team and then the work of each individual, so that they all add up to the organization’s goals.
- Foster collaboration. If you want people to be unified, they need to understand each other. Encouraging individuals and teams to work together on projects, either by creating interdependent objectives or establishing inter-department committees, helps individuals better understand their peers’ roles and responsibilities. (Alternatively, some organizations have tried using rotations as a way for people to better understand the roles of different departments.) Equally important is informal communication, which builds trusting relationships and facilitates more voluntary knowledge sharing between employees.
Oftentimes the leader of the organization and the senior management are aligned, but the rest of the organization has difficulty getting on board, especially those employees who are furthest from the leadership team on the organizational chart. It is vital that the leadership communicates a clear vision, establishes supportive systems, and fosters a collaborative culture to make sure that everyone is working together in unison.
It isn’t easy to be the captain of a ship, where you are responsible for setting the ship’s course, navigating the waters, looking ahead to what’s next, and overseeing the sailors. You may not be in control of the weather or the seas, but if you can ensure that everyone is rowing together and performing their duties in harmony, you’re more likely to weather the storms and experience more smooth sailing towards your destination.