Do You Align Your Team Efficiently?
It's a part of being Talent Efficient
After I published the original Talent Efficiency post, an experienced CEO emailed me a thoughtful response:
Here's some math to consider: the average engineer at a midsize company has meetings 32 hours a week. (At least, when I last was looking at this 15 or so years ago, that's a number I remember and put forward as a straw man for this convo). Consider how many engineering (read: "productive") hours the engineer has if they work 35, 40, 50 or 60 hours.
Here's the results: 3, 8, 18, 28. So, If you imagine 40 hour work weeks, then working 60 hour weeks gets you 3 weeks of productivity compared to a 40 hour worker. When you consider that it could take an hour to get into 'flow' or the zone, the math is even more bleak…
Anyway, back to your outperforming companies story - I'd bet, (and would be curious to learn) that those companies are really good at somehow getting consensus without a lot of meetings - maybe they're very data first / dashboarding type companies. Or possibly the work of running the company is simple and doesn't require a lot of coordination…Some companies require a lot of coordination and time and energy across timezones and disciplines, and people work really hard.
This is a great illustration of one of the root causes of low Talent Efficiency: difficulty generating alignment across the company.
As I mentioned in my original article, I see Company Fundamental #6 — alignment across your team — as a core asset of a company that’s relevant for evaluation, just like the company’s total addressable market or competitive dynamic. Alignment is critical to future success, and some companies do it better than others:
Some founders are better at aligning their teams, due to their clarity of communication, powers of persuasion, strategic foresight, the team’s trust in them, or another reason.
Some teams have a greater bent toward automation, using software and process to minimize the meeting time required to align folks. (The CEO above mentioned: “very data first / dashboarding type companies”).
Some companies are easier to align because there are fewer barriers between team members: they have shared values, there are fewer required functional areas, there are fewer time zones (as the CEO above suggested), etc.
A company that requires many hours to align the organization has a fundamental problem. I see this as a red flag. Organizations that are more difficult to align are more likely to not be aligned. And when team members are moving in all different directions, strong financial results are less likely in the future.
(As a side note: In general, when any activity at the company — aligning the team, selling to customers, launching a new product, generating adoption — is “very hard,” beyond just the first few times, or as a one-off, I see that as a problem with fundamentals. And poor fundamentals don’t bode well for future results.)
I’d love to hear from you: What do you think makes some organizations more difficult to align than others?
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As always, I’ll share some leadership roles at companies that I’m excited about:
Customer Success Team Lead
Director of Engineering
Product Marketing / Head of marketing (US/Europe)
Director/VP of Engineering