What Is Team Alignment?
Team alignment is arriving at a common understanding by which various employees across functions and departments communicate and collaborate to deliver specific organizational goals.
Team alignment includes technology and human process convergence around delivering better products and services to customers.
With Covid-19 and subsequent lockdowns that have pushed team members to remote working environments, team alignment has become even more critical.
Under on-premise working conditions, issues relating to lack of alignment tend to expose themselves faster as everyone is physically in the same workspace.
However, when team members work together but spread across remote locations, issues emerging from lack of alignment may remain hidden until a significant roadblock gets discovered.
Therefore, it is even more critical that managers align their teams using technology and processes. The goal is to cut losses from a lack of clarity around work delivery, timeframes, key objectives, targets, and goals.
Team alignment is often cross-team, where various disciplines come together to deliver a final project, product, or service.
For example, suppose technology product managers work with programmers, engineers, digital designers, and marketers. Then, each member who belongs to other functional teams must be on the same page.
In addition, even members of the same functional group may need alignment.
For example, programmers and developers who are also part of a larger product development team will need alignment. It ensures that the same tech-stack, programming language, and development methodologies get implemented.
Why is Team Alignment important?
Team alignment is critical to ensure that every member understands the final goals, the approaches, and the strategies used to achieve them.
Furthermore, human talent management, type of methodology used, type of technology, and tools to acquire – require team alignment.
To better understand the importance of team alignment, let us look at the objectives met when your team is aligned.
Key Objectives of Team Alignment
Shared responsibility for the outcome
Output may be personal. The outcome, however, is almost ways a team alignment effort.
For example, writing an article is a writer’s output, editing is the editor’s output, and posting it is the site manager’s output.
However, when they are all aligned – the result is an article that generates traffic.
The more aligned they are the better and faster the production quality content.
Team leaders must ensure that team members align on their individual goals and collaborate to get a result that benefits the entire organization.
Reduced wastage of resources and increased exchange of knowledge
Unaligned teams are redundant processes, technology purchases (similar products used by different teams), and multiple copies of the same work.
In programming, for instance, a piece of code may have to be written for one project and may need to be written again for another project.
Through cross-team alignment, the team leads can identify redundant work by their members and exchange knowledge among their team members.
Promotes transparency and accountability
‘A millennial workforce today demands transparency above all else. A manager of millennials needs accountability.’
Early alignment is key to transparency among team members. In this case, each person knows what another is working on and how each member is accountable for a specific task for the final outcome.
Better ideation process
Ideas are no one’s monopoly.
There must be a time and place to share, debate, discuss, and then move forward on an agreed-upon set of ideas.
Team alignment and meetings allow individuals to share their unique perspectives and ideas, often coming together to form better working conditions.
Without a safe and structured space for team alignment, where people can speak freely within the confines of the scope, a discussion may be suppressed or lost.
Acts as a trust-building activity
Team members who understand each other are more tolerant and friendly to one another.
This understanding may stem from a technical, work-related discussion. Still, it leads to a personal bond that helps develop a healthier working environment.
It is especially true today when our workplaces, remote or on-premise, are filled with people from various backgrounds who are in different stages of their lives.
We highly recommend using software for product managers to build team alignment, create product roadmaps, and collect customer feedback.
Key Best Practices for Aligning Your Team in 2022
Company-wide alignment across basics – Product, Process, and Customer
The most preliminary alignment needed across teams, departments, products, and functions is the need for utmost clarity. It includes the company’s product suite, what problems they solve, and who buys them (target audience).
Whether an employee works in HR, engineering, marketing, accounting, or sales, this fundamental clarity and alignment on these core aspects play into every single role.
How effectively they produce quality work aligned to the company’s core objectives depends on what they sell, to whom, and why.
Provide individual targets
Company outcomes are collected and shared by every employee. However, the productive work of each employee comes together to create this common success.
For this reason, alignment around individual targets is key to ensuring that every employee knows how they contribute to the firm’s overall success.
It is also vital for their feeling of having a goal and the encouragement from accomplishing these individual goals.
Showcase how individual targets converse
Following our previous point, aligning your team members to showcase how their work collectively aims and accomplishes revenue goals is critical.
It is not the same as revenue attribution for every individual’s target. In many cases, revenues cannot be accurately attributed, especially in engineering and marketing.
However, from a team and process perspective, it can be explained how each role and target contributes to the final outcome.
Invest in alignment technologies
Team alignment depends heavily on technology enablers, especially in today’s increasingly remote working environment.
For instance, while investing in project or product management tools, they should be vested in the level of team collaboration and alignment they can facilitate.
Unlike point solutions like Slack, unified product management suites provide collaboration tools that better sync with the day-to-day communication activities of managers and employees.
Alternatively, users can aim for remote collaboration point solutions like corporate instant messenger tools for live chat.
Discourage but don’t stop post-alignment meet queries
Team alignment is also an investment, apart from being an asset when used correctly.
It implies that there has to be a certain level of adherence to the alignment process by every team member, invariant of hierarchy. It includes ensuring that the time allocated to align team members, even if it gets segmented, should be adequately utilized.
You do this to get queries resolved and arrive at the same page.
A manager should not discourage querying on a subject they have already discussed, and the team is aligned.
However, it may be discouraged to ensure proper time utilization, primarily upon establishing the process.
You may also be interested in:
- How Product Teams Can Drive an Outstanding Customer Experience Strategy
- Product Team: Role and Structure
- 2×2 Prioritization Matrix: A Useful Tool for Professional Teams
- 9 Best Team Collaboration Software in 2022
- How Do Product Managers Collect Customer Feedback?
- Customer Needs: How To Identify Them and Make an Analysis?