Alignment conversations are a crucial part of any successful relationship, whether it be between you and your boss, or you and your boyfriend. These conversations are designed to help individuals understand each other's goals, values, and expectations, and to ensure that they are working towards a shared vision for the future, without (too) much misunderstanding.
At IECL, we often hear that clients want a program or solution that provides leaders with the tools they need to have difficult conversations with their team members. However, we prefer to look at how a leader got to that crucial point of needing to have that challenging conversation in the first place…and how they can avoid going there in future.
Our “whole system” perspective means that IECL looks at the impact that effective alignment conversation can have on your mindset at work, the way you show up, the relationships you have trust in and the organisation’s outcomes in general. The problem almost always isn’t that the leader can’t lead the challenging conversations (many enjoy it in fact!) but that it’s come to that in the first place. There’s often a misalignment, or a lack of clarity around expectations, and assumptions may have crept in from all parties involved.
So what are alignment conversations?
At the heart of an alignment conversation is the idea that two people can only truly work together effectively if they are both moving in the same direction. This means that they need to have a clear understanding of each other's expectations and goals and how they plan to achieve them.
Ultimately, alignment conversations are all about fostering understanding and collaboration. By having these conversations, you can ensure that you and your team members are on the same page and working towards a shared vision.
Alignment conversations are not a one-time event. Ideally you have ongoing conversations with your team that regularly revisit role clarity, shared goals and “how it’s going” in order to ensure that individuals or teams are always working towards their shared vision. These conversations are not meant to be confrontational or combative, but rather are designed to foster understanding and collaboration. In fact, the more often you can have an alignment conversation, the less frequent the combative or confrontational ones need to occur.
And, alignment conversations are not just about agreeing with each other, but rather about understanding each other's goals and perspectives, and finding ways to work together - and even disagree - effectively.
Why are we talking about Alignment conversations now?
Misalignment has been around in relationships since we have been able to communicate. It’s taken a global pandemic for us to realise that when team members aren’t in the same physical location, misunderstandings and miscommunications arise more easily in a work environment. Leaders haven’t changed their approach but the external factors have made it glaringly obvious that that approach hasn’t worked so well in the past either. With increasingly remote teams, and more people working flexibly, crystal clear expectations (and role clarity) are key.
IECL teaches leaders how to have effective conversations, of all kinds. Contact us to find out more about how we can help your organisation get more aligned.