Company’s Culture isn’t Aligned? Your Employees Won’t be Either

People fist together

If the wheels of a car are not aligned, the car veers off-trail, the tires wear unevenly and the steering wheel stops functioning in a proper manner. For the car to operate at its full potential, maintain coherent fuel economy, and head in the right direction, everything must be properly aligned.

The alignment of a car is the perfect metaphor for the alignment of your organization. It is the management which is the steering wheel and employees the tires – the organization cannot move ahead without both. It has to be ensured that both move in the same direction for the organization to function efficiently and achieve its goals. This is why when the culture and strategy of the organization are misaligned, it is obvious that the employees will be too! As per the research done by ISA Global, culture and strategy alignment accounts for 71% of the difference amongst the high and low-performing organizations in terms of employee engagement. 

Prospering organizations thrive on alignment. Their culture, strategy, and employees are all in ordered harmony. If any of these three pillars of success are askew, organizations have a road full of impediments ahead. Organizational leaders must make it a primacy to get both their culture and strategy aligned. This is pivotal to ensure that your customers, partners, and employees clearly understand about organization’s strategic vision and the direction it is cruising to. 

Company's culture and strategy alignment

Alignment of culture and strategy helps in keeping each and everyone aware of the core values of the organization and how they fit into the equation. For employees, the culture should not only inspire but empower them to execute the vision of the organization. They should be given a moral compass to help them make decisions without having any second thoughts. 

How to spot lack of alignment in organizational culture

An immaculate culture ensures that the employees are aligned with the organization’s vision and a good strategy reports the tactics that transform this vision into reality. If your organization is missing the mark, the employees will be first to inform you through their actions. Following are some of the worrisome signs to watch out for: 

1) Passing the parcel of responsibility

When the employees are unaware of what they are working towards and why; they end up blaming one another for issues that crop us as they fail to understand the strategy of their team and organization. If the culture and strategies are aligned across the entire organization, employees work with a common purpose and agenda. If the organization processes with misaligned culture and strategies, their organizational teams constantly deal with confusion and misaligned goals. This disconnection leads to a myopic view of what success looks like. Consequently, fostering finger-pointing, silos, and unproductive employees gets common in such misaligned organizations.  

2) Substituting perks for culture

Organizations generally spent huge chunks of money on the open organization concept interspersed with foosball and ping-pong tables and even nap rooms. There’s nothing wrong in doing so – all of these concepts are great and add to employee morale. However, expecting such things to define the culture is a big blunder that is often committed by innumerable organizations. Make sure you don’t neglect to bring your organizational strategies on paper to life.  Avoid defining a set of corporate values that appear more like poster material than substance. The organizational values have to be backed by the actions and accountability of the leaders. If the leaders don’t embrace them, how can the employees be expected to? 

3) Lack of engagement

In order to enhance employee engagement, equip leaders with the knowledge to communicate with employees about the vision, strategy, and direction of the organization. If employees spot hypocrisies, do not rebuke them and listen to them. Avoid leaving your organization’s vision on just a dusty poster in the break room. Think about it with each new project. Before every project, think if it will push the organization closer or further from the ability to execute the vision. If a project fails to gel with the vision, make some adjustments and make your employees understand why things were altered. Make sure to be transparent and communicate often. As employees notice the management put strategy and vision first, they will do the same. 

How to align organizational culture with strategy?

The process begins with the formation of a high-performance culture that is completely supported by strong leadership communications, competent people management skills, and fully engaged employees. 

Organizational alignment is only possible with the strategic organizational goals, people’s cultural behavior and values are unanimously supportive. The aim is to accomplish a high-performance culture that ostensibly outlines norms and behaviors that are supportive of the organization. Employees should be connected, involved, supported, and hence engaged with the organization. They should have a clear idea about what is expected from them. At its best, cultural alignment is a motivational and emotional energizer. On the other hand, an unaligned culture at its worst can be a drag on employee performance and productivity

Mission and vision: 

An organization’s culture is shaped by its leadership. As would with any organization’s objective or strategy, the leadership needs to define it very clearly. The initial step to fostering a strong culture is to define the mission, vision, and values of the organization along with clarifying the expectations about employee behaviors. The mission and vision of the organization should be taken into focus and analyzed how it is being interpreted by all the people in the organization.

Strategic path:

Once the vision and mission of the organization are clear, leaders need to make their employees aware of the strategic priorities of the organization. Explain to your employees the primary routes in which the organization competes and how they link with the organizational vision and mission. This path accentuates what needs to be done. These are the goals that teams and individuals have to accomplish for the organization to achieve the desired results. Whatever might be the priority of your organization, your employees need to be aware and completely aligned with it. Through determining your core market strategy, you will be able to measure how well your organization’s culture and strategy are aligned. 

Cultural path: 

You must ensure that your employees are aware of, comprehend, and support the strategic direction of your organization, its objectives, and the plan to achieve them. This part is all about trust and commitment to what the organization is working to achieve. It focuses on the ethical attitude of how things have to be done – how the strategic route should be accomplished and how all the tasks should be implemented. The behavior and values that help the organization should be compatible with the strategic objective. The cultural path is very much associated with workplace morale – the degree of motivational, devotional, rational emotional employee engagement.

The culture, strategy, and employee engagement of the organization are inextricably connected. If you want your organization to outperform its peers – form a clear strategy, align the culture and strategies, and have an accountability and reward system to sustain the growth of the organization. Need more assistance to align your culture, strategy, and employees? Or do you want guidance to boost employee engagement for your organization? Visit us right away!

author img

Gaurav Sabharwal


Gaurav is the CEO of JOP (Joy of Performing), an OKR and high-performance enabling platform. With almost two decades of experience in building businesses, he knows what it takes to enable high performance within a team and engage them in the business. He supports organizations globally by becoming their growth partner and helping them build high-performing teams by tackling issues like lack of focus, unclear goals, unaligned teams, lack of funding, no continuous improvement framework, etc. He is a Certified OKR Coach and loves to share helpful resources and address common organizational challenges to help drive team performance. Read More

Author Bio

You may also like