Getting alignment with others can be something that you either look forward to or dread depending our your personality and the personality of the person that you need to interact with. Honestly, depending on the day and tasks ahead you can fall into both categories in a matter of hours. I know that I sometimes feel the same excitement and dread at the same time as well on occasion.
No matter whether you love to work with a person or a group or you just don’t get along with someone else, it’s essential to arrive at some shared alignment in order to be effective in meeting your goals and the shared goals of the team.
Understand your audience
One of the first steps to gaining alignment on a project, task, or strategy is to understand your audience. Solidifying your understanding of your audience will smooth out the process if done well and will throw in all kinds of roadblocks and frustration if not accounted for properly. Here are some tips to better connect with them as you gain alignment with others:
- What is their communication preference? Get a good understanding of how the person performs to receive their communication and how they best process information. In one of my regular team meetings, I have a great associate that needs to see a visual to understand the details of where we are going. Others prefer to talk it out together.
- Who really needs to be there? Sometimes a leader will say that they want to be involved only to later learn that someone else on their team is the right person. Other times the opposite is true. They delegate the meeting out, only to ask you for updates and add last-minute additions and preferences. Let the leader know your observations and ask for further clarification if you see a misalignment in this area. It’s not your job to fix the dynamics of another team, but you should work with them to get the right person in the proverbial seat to help get the alignment that you need.
- What level of involvement do they want? This is where you may have some tension, especially if you are one to be agile and quick to act while another party wants to have oversight or be heavily involved in the decision-making process. Be willing to compromise here to the best of your ability and ask your leader for guidance if you are struggling in this area. Honor the person’s role and avoid turning the tension into something personal. At the end of the day, you likely want what’s best for the team and organization.
Be aware of your own work preferences and tendencies
We all have personal twerks about us and many of those will help or hurt you as you try to gain alignment with others. For me, when leading meetings, I have a tendency not to say much. I want to hear from others and I want them to feel like they are heard and have a voice on the item that we are all aligning on. This certainly helps us get to an agreed-upon solution faster.
I also have a tendency to pour in my focus and effort to knock out a project very quickly by myself. As a result of that speed and efficiency, I will sometimes neglect to include others or just give them a high-level status of what I am working on. Sometimes it’s not a problem, and other times I have to go back and spend time getting a party up to speed or even make changes based on feedback.
Having a good understanding of your preferences in work style and how you function and communicate to others will help you see how you need to adapt your style or capitalize on your strength.
Make the success about others and not yourself
It’s a great feeling to know that you accomplished something that will greatly impact others in a good way. Remember that alignment has everything to do with others and nothing to do with yourself. As a young leader, I would see these accomplishments as personal wins, I got what I wanted. As I matured, I saw the joy of shared success and seeing others celebrate the win just as much, if not more than me.
Take the personal drive for a win out of the equation and be sure to recognize and celebrate the shared success as you gain alignment with others.
The bigger the team and company, the bigger the need
If you are an entrepreneur leading a small team, or maybe you are a team of one…. there’s not much alignment needed, right? Look at yourself in the mirror, make your decision and move towards the goal! As the team grows, and the physical footprint of the company grows, so does the need for alignment.
For example, the need for alignment is critical to have any kind of success at a $100 Billion company. The complexity to gain that alignment can be very challenging. You may find yourself in an organization so big that you don’t even know who the stakeholders are perhaps until it’s too late. In large organizations, take the time to understand the playing field and who the players and key stakeholders are. The strength of your networking will pay off here as you connect with others to make sure that everyone has a seat at the table. Some tips as you work to gain alignment in large organizations include:
- Be willing to slow down. Get everyone up to speed and include them on the journey. the larger the organization the more people will likely need to be involved.
- Compromise when possible. Your priorities may not be the same as others, and in large organizations, it’s likely someone that you need to align with will not share the same priority or perspective as you. Remember the larger goal and be willing to adapt your plan and strategy for others.
As you personally gain more authority and influence, your need to gain alignment instead of going at it alone will increase as well. Remember to include others, adapt to others’ needs, and share the success together. You’ll be an effective leader that successfully impacts more people than ever before.
Make a better tomorrow.