Retail Organizational Alignment To Improve Employee Performance
Organizational alignment is the absolute compatibility between the strategic and cultural paths, and consistency of them inside a team or, preferably, a whole retail organization. Much like signature relationships practices of specific teams, organizational culture is that it’s the only sustainable point of difference for any organization. Any retail organization can copy your strategy [it happens all the time], but nobody can copy your organizational culture. That is unique and tailored to the brand and, executives, senior leaders, junior leaders, and team members you invite onto your team!
What Does Your Strategy Look Like?
This is an unusual concept in retail. Most organizations steal their business models from successful organizations, fail to replicate what made it successful in the first place [Hint: Usually the biggest variation is passion and purpose of the people] and don’t invest too much time in creating a compelling and effective culture. Your retail strategy must clearly define your primary value proposition, your customer experience standards, your future results destination, and the values and behaviors that will guide your actions on the journey to business results achievement. This must be done to attract the consumer and keep them engaged in your brand and your product – and your customer facing team must embrace this consistently to drive home the brand proposition to the communities they serve.
While this content is important, it is also critical to describe the actions, in the form of strategic objectives, your company must focus on to get from the present to the future destination. Remember – what got you here won’t get you there in retail – organizations must be adaptable and agile to react to the evolving business circumstances.
Build Awareness Of The Culture
Retail organizations often start by identifying critical challenges that exist and impact their organization and consider their collective frustrations about “the way things work around here” – these are things that are holding the organization back from reaching its potential with anything [but customer experience is a good place to start if you aren’t sure where to begin]. It also helps to define the strengths you need leverage in support of your strategy as you understand how to further improve your culture.
Measure Your Organization’s Culture
Talking about “employee engagement” has become somewhat clunky and expositional. It’s talked about so much it’s become white noise. But you can measure an organization’s health in a variety of ways, retention, employee referrals, time to fill, metric achievement, promotions, absenteeism, etc. Engage your organization’s employees in the process to move from a slew of opinions and ambiguity around your culture to a clearly defined, living and breathing program of what you’re all about. When you can define your purpose and direction, your team understands the organization’s goals and objectives – they understand their role commitment to the culture – they contribute to it – and weed out those people that don’t deliver positive results to it.
Energetically Communicate Your Organization’s Strategy
Your organization and it’s people can’t align with your business strategy if they don’t know what it is. Strategy communications are a crucial, not-optional, ongoing process in the creation of organizational alignment. Communication must be frequent, transparent, and two-way at all levels and – today – you must use multiple platforms. It is imperative that there be a significant amount of business leader involvement when you are striving to create an aligned organization and ensure your culture and strategy are both improving and consistently defining your organizational objectives.
Using collaborative tools and face-to-face communication can greatly improve the understanding and level of buy-in of strategy. Email and newsletters just doesn’t cut it anymore – we need to deliver communication and feedback in the way that best resonates with our team. Great retail leaders understand how to energize and engage their team through the best communication methods/platforms.
Cascade/Disseminate The Corporate Strategy
This is one area where we often lose momentum. Vertically, horizontally, diagonally, you have to spend time to share your strategy and ensure that it is understood and the “what” and “why’s” are explained and clarified. Make sure your culture is being defined and understood in every area of the business and in with even the most part-time of retail team members. If we pick and choose who we deem important to our business proposition we are going to have huge, critical gaps in the business – and unfortunately, this occurs with frightening frequency in field retail.
Ask For Feedback – Identify Opportunities – Take Action
Engage the organization in providing open feedback, innovative suggestions, and prioritization to define key culture improvements. Utilize feedback and prioritization standards to understand your culture assessment and to identify the top improvements to leverage strengths and overcome obstacles hat are impeding growth. Many organizations obtain feedback and then confuse and frustrated employees by not taking action or taking action in areas that were exclusively determined by “executives” that don’t understand the nuances of the field and don’t spend time in the field – where most of the obstacles exist. Developing an action plan as a team is key so the organization feels clearly engaged in the process to enthusiastically [and without fear] overcome business challenges and feel supported in the process.
Link All Employees Work/Projects With The Business Strategy
Retail employees at every single level want to perform work with meaning and purpose and that can be directly identified as having an impact on the business results. Alignment – for every team member – begins by helping them see how their work fits in with the business strategy – this makes strategy more meaningful and tangible to everyone. When there is an understanding of the goals and objectives of the business, employees have the opportunity and desire to identify and share ideas for improvement that can support your business strategy. Allowing for creativity and risk-taking can support and generate new ideas and processes that create stronger results.
It is necessary to assess key business practices and determine whether they link to and support the elements of your business strategy. When non-strategic or non-value-adding projects and processes are identified, the strongest retail business leaders champion them for elimination and re-invest organizational energy into only productive work that contributes to the bottom line. Making decisions about the strategic value of the work completed in your organization can make the difference between a more efficient, high performance organization – and one that wastes effort, talent, and payroll.
Measure & Communicate Progress
Every level of retail leadership from junior leaders to executives need to know where their team stands, how it’s contributing, and where they need to focus their planning and prioritization. It is critically important to monitor success and progress at it relates to business strategy since culture clearly impacts productivity and performance. There should be scheduled feedback and priority setting processes to identify and improve on what’s working and to adjust actions that aren’t having the immediate desired impact. It is so important for leadership to be adaptable and open to change and quickly shifting priorities.
Recognize & Reward Top Performance
A Gallup study found strengths-based employee feedback resulted in a 12.5% increase in productivity. Understanding what employees’ strengths are and utilizing them to align employees with the company’s goals will help everyone succeed.
Seriously – letting everyone know their great contribution(s) is aligned with the company goals and objectives and that they are regularly recognized and rewarded by high-level and direct leaders will motivate them to continue to do more great work.