Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Strategy Alignment- what do you do if you are already there?

In the article, From Strategy to Implementation: Seeking Alignment, the authors discuss the need to align ‘People and Incentives’ to strategy. As an HR professional, this was interesting to me. The example given is that of a cookie franchise that was recruiting for and hiring candidates who were a mismatch with the company’s strategy (entrepreneurs who had difficulty following the procedures). That example seemed like a very obvious misalignment of strategy. At places that I have worked, I haven’t seen that glaring of an example of a misalignment. I have seen more instances where the strategy is aligned, but there needs to be continuous monitoring for optimization of that alignment. Aligning ‘people and incentives’ to strategy is important, but once you do that, how do you know that you are ‘there’ and how do you continue to optimize that alignment?

For example, our staffing process is aligned with the corporate strategy. How do we know this? First, we have a process in place that aligns staffing to business plans, and those business plans align to strategy. The staffing process: Managers create business plans for sales and operations, and using that data, create staffing plans. For staffing, managers, working with the HR department, create organization charts, job descriptions, recruiting plans, interview plans and on-boarding plans before we even post that a job is available. By taking those steps, we create a picture of the ideal candidate, how they will fit into the organization and how we will help them succeed.

How do we know that we are successful in aligning the staffing process to strategy? We look at metrics such as turnover; we conduct employee and manager satisfaction surveys; we monitor new employee performance; and we look at succession planning. Our metrics indicate that our process appears to be aligned with strategy. The next question is this- is it optimal? Can we do better? For example, in the GE article, their interviewing process includes a section where candidates are evaluated on a team building exercise. As we do not do anything like that during our interviews, I found it to be an intriguing idea. The idea inspired me to think that maybe we could try something new like that in our process; it might result in us reaching a decision on a candidate faster. Even though our staffing process is aligned with strategy, we need to be open to new ideas that could assist us in optimizing the process.

Question: Has anyone else worked on optimizing alignment of strategy? And does anyone have any interesting interviewing experiences to share?

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