To engage your staff, take steps to align your department chiefs first

Examine this scenario for keys to coordinating your efforts right from the start.

One day about 15 years ago, I was talking with a guy from a large agency about the need to build marketing strategies on a strong foundation of employee engagement. Then, as now, I believed the two have to go hand in hand if a company wants to match its marketing promises with what it actually delivers. “Oh yeah,” he replied. “We’re calling that brand alignment.”

Up to then, I had only heard the word alignment used routinely in reference to straightening the front end of a car. The way he said it, though, I suspected it would become a prominent buzzword on the business communication landscape. And so it has.

A different kind of ‘shop talk’

Alignment is a good word, but the trouble is that people have fairly diverse interpretations of it.

I’m going take a crack at building a unified meaning around it, but not trying to define it. Instead, I’m going to show what alignment looks like in a hypothetical conversation among three people who are the heads of different departments, working together in ways you rarely see in organizations. There’s Mary in marketing, Tom in human resources and Jane in internal communication. Let’s hear what they say.

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