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Strategic Alignment

A May 2023 article showed the stat that 82% of executives thought their company had strategic alignment, but subsequent testing showed that only 23% actually had alignment. My 25-point rule states that whatever number executives think, they are at least 25 points off - this exceeds even that!

While there are many reasons for this lack of alignment, there can be no doubt that managers play a pivotal role in the problem.

Consider the role of the manager in regards to strategy: Know the strategy and determine how the team contributes to the success of the strategy. In even more basic terms, know what the company wants the team to do and make sure the team is doing those things.

This requires two important things from the manager. In my experience, neither of these things are happening to the degree they should be.

First, the manager needs to be totally clear on the strategy. This requires lots of study, asking questions, communicating, and just all around curiosity. With the poor levels of communication that most organizations display, it would be rare for the manager to be able to fully understand the strategy right away. While most strategies may seem simple to understand at first, there are many complexities once a manager starts to dig in.

Second, the manager needs to convey concerns and questions up the chain. This is the managing up portion of the role. If a strategy is unclear, let that be known and get the guidance you need. Communicate what you and your team are doing so that an executive can look and verify it is what they intended. Keep an eye out for shifts in the strategy or communications/actions that can provide more context.

One complaint I hear is that managers don't necessarily have visibility at the executive level. This makes it hard to get context, communicate, and ask questions. The manager has to work with her supervisor to get what she needs. This doesn't mean demanding access to the C-suite. It does require communicating why you need this access and how it will benefit the organization.

Again, the manager alone can't fix the strategic alignment issues that plague organizations. However, the level of seriousness of the issue shows why managers are so important.

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