“Bay 3 clear,” shouted the oil technician as he signaled it was clear to pull my car forward. “All clear here,” shouted his coworker in the next bay. Watching the well orchestrated and aligned activities of the Valvoline Instant Oil change team near my house, the magic of this team’s work became very clear. I can only guess as to whether their teamwork was due to trust or training – probably both – but most teams don’t develop trust without having clear structures like training that guide their behaviors.

What impressed me most was that this oil change crew had a singularity of focus around the prevention of the one thing that can derail a company no matter how large or successful: MISALIGNMENT.

The Valvoline crew exhibited what I call “Full Spectrum Alignment” in all of its activities, and this is an intentional and strategic part of the business model for market leading companies. The team knew who did what, in what order, and how long each activity took. They involved customers in the alignment process by explaining the oil change process and encouraging customers to watch what’s happening under their hoods on the in-shop video monitoring system.

As the oil change unfolded, team members shouted out tasks that were achieved serving as a signal to the next team member to begin their task and allowing the customer (me) to follow along with the process. This oil change team would have earned a high rating in Full Spectrum Alignment because they were working a proven system that made alignment efficient and interactive, spicing up the alignment process with mechanic shop showmanship. The process of interactive alignment created an “oil change experience.” Simple, brilliant.

How aligned are your team’s activities from top to bottom? If you are unsure, do you ever measure alignment to ensure you are doing the small things right? A company exhibiting Full Spectrum Alignment has effective alignment ratings at four levels: employee-job, employee-manager, employee-team, and employee-culture. Misalignment at any of these levels typically starts with a toleration of mediocrity and eventually spirals into operational friction, productivity loss, and high performer turnover.

If your team’s timing is off or unproductive friction is emerging, ask yourself if you have clearly identified and communicated the roles, goals, and sequence of actions for the team’s activities. Simplicity is key. Complexity is the enemy of execution.

Execution indeed, as I was headed back to my house within 13 minutes of starting that oil change. This symphony might not have been Mozart but it was still music to my ears, because overlooking the fundamentals, a simple thing like alignment, is detrimental to the long term success of any business.

Go back to the basics. Clear communication is the first step to alignment. Monitor team friction by making sure you have the right moving parts in the right places on an ongoing basis.  If you don’t, your team will lock up.

Threat = Overlooking alignment
Opportunity = Return to the basics and strive to create Full Spectrum Alignment across all 4 levels

To discover more about the importance of alignment and whether your company exhibits Full Spectrum Alignment, send us an email: info@sparkthediscussion.com