What Is Performance Alignment, and Why Is It Important?

Ensure that all of your employees are meaningfully working towards your organization’s goals with performance alignment.

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What is Performance Alignment, and Why Is It Important?

There’s a reason that the tires on your car have to be aligned: If one component is out of sync with the rest, it’s impossible to move forward efficiently (if at all). In this way, businesses are like cars — there has to be alignment across teams and sectors. In pretty much every other way, companies are entirely different because there’s more than just four tires to harmonize.

Maybe you’ve spent all kinds of time focusing on performance management and performance alignment is something of a new idea for you. Perhaps you’ve been hearing plenty about performance alignment and its benefits, but aren’t sure how to bring the practice into your specific small business. Regardless, here’s a crash course on the basics of performance alignment.

What is performance alignment?

As you grow and expand and are no longer working in close proximity with every employee, it’s easy to see how alignment with the company’s larger vision and goals can slip.

Performance alignment is essentially ensuring that all of your employees across the company are meaningfully working towards the organization’s goals. Believe it or not, the idea has been around for years!

For smaller companies, chances are performance alignment isn’t something you’ve thought much about before. This is likely because it happens more or less organically within a small team. If you’re a crew of just a dozen or so people all working side by side in a coworking space, it’s pretty easy to get and remain aligned.

Things change, though, when your company changes. As you grow and expand and are no longer working in close proximity with every employee, it’s easy to see how alignment with the company’s larger vision and goals can slip. It’s not that people are purposefully going off course, it’s that it takes a lot of intentional effort to keep a growing or larger company aligned. And that’s pretty different from performance management.

The difference between performance alignment and performance management

You’re probably wondering what the big difference is between performance alignment and performance management. Aren’t they more or less the same thing? Not quite.

While performance management and performance alignment are closely related, they stem from a different purpose and mindset.

Performance management is concerned with productivity and meeting performance goals. In a performance management mindset, you’re concerned with hard skills, increased and efficient productivity, and training that supports that.

In a performance alignment mindset, you’re concerned with how your team’s work ladders up to the company’s ultimate goals and larger vision. Rather than focusing on the technical skills that a new hire could bring to your team, you’ll also be considering the applicant’s mindset and how it relates to the company’s mission and vision.

Performance management requires the clear communication of:

  • Productivity goals
  • Overarching direction for the company as a whole

When focusing on performance alignment, you’re concerned with not just the performance of your team, but whether or not what they’re tackling is the right thing to be working on.

Why employers should care about performance alignment

Sounding like a lot of extra work for little to no benefit? Think again.

Performance alignment not only gives clear direction for how employees can execute their tasks, it keeps them in line with the company’s larger goals in the process. This is especially important if you rely on talent from younger generations who are concerned that their career ladders up to a larger social purpose.

Performance alignment makes each team’s role in achieving the company’s larger goals super clear. Without alignment, it’s easy to see how workers can become disillusioned and start to feel like the work they do doesn’t really matter.

The result of a focus on performance alignment is a workforce that’s not only performing, but feeling engaged and satisfied with the work that they’re doing along the way.

Performance alignment not only gives clear direction for how employees can execute their tasks, it keeps them in line with the company’s larger goals in the process.

Shifting towards performance alignment

The first place to start a shift towards performance management is by ensuring that you have current, relevant, and clear company mission, goals, and values. It might seem obvious, but you can’t have alignment if you don’t have a crystal clear picture of what you’re aligning with.

Once you have the big picture mapped out, the key to a killer performance alignment strategy is involvement from all levels of your business. From HR to owners, managers, and staff, everyone has to be on the same page in order to keep their employees and teams on the same page. There has to be clear and consistent communication from the top down on what the company’s goals are as they evolve over time.

On top of that, feedback should be continuous rather than sparse. Employees need to be clued into shifts and changes as they happen in order to not only get aligned, but stay aligned. So, consider taking a new approach to performance reviews that takes them out of the annual realm and into more of your team’s daily operations.

Finally, as with any new practice or approach, make sure you revise it regularly. Not only will this help you evolve over time, it also takes the pressure off of having to get it perfect the first time. Instead, think of it as an evolving process of change. The more you do it, the more you’ll learn and, as you refine your performance alignment strategy based on your learnings, the better you’ll get at it.

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