Blog 4 | The Marathon Way | Organisational Alignment and Engagement

Roadmap to a High Performing, Growing Business

Throughout history carthorses have been used for pulling great loads and moving very heavy objects. A single carthorse can pull a load up to 8,000 pounds (3600 kg). One would assume two carthorses could pull 16,000 pounds (double the load). They can actually pull three times as much by working together and four times as much if they have trained with one another. These are powerful lessons not only in teamwork, but coordinated and trained collaboration.

The 3rd discipline of the Organisational Health Foundation is Organisational Alignment and Engagement. Once a leadership team has organisational clarity, the organisations’ planning, meeting and communication structures should reinforce that clarity consistently and with sufficient frequency to align the hearts and minds of all the employees.

Personnel cost is the single biggest expense in most businesses. Companies pay for 100% labour availability and productivity, but in our experience most businesses waste between 10% and 25% of their payroll by neglecting their employee alignment and engagement practices.


Marathon Foundation 1.3: Organisational Alignment and Engagement

What is organisational alignment and how is it achieved?

Once a leadership team has clarity on the 7 questions discussed in Blog 3 the rest of the organisation has to be aligned, at every level, to ensure they know what to do to support the growth of the business. Alignment occurs when leaders over-communicate the answers to the 7 clarity questions. Some claim that employees do not believe what leaders are telling them until they have heard it seven times. People are skeptical about what they are being told unless they hear it consistently over time. The other reality is that we forget – the message fades away.

Organisational alignment should happen at both a macro and micro level:

  • At a macro level employees should have a common understanding of the purpose and goals of the organisation.
  • At a micro level the organisational goals then have to be linked with employees’ personal and job related goals. There also needs to be consistency between every objective and plan right down to the incentives offered to employees.

Alignment is achieved when the above mentioned activities are institutionalised in the human systems of the business. Human systems give an organisation a structure for tying its operations, culture and management together, even when leaders are not around to remind people what to do.

Alignment therefore helps teams and organisations perform better collectively as explained in the carthorse example above.


What is employee engagement?

Most employees are just content or satisfied with their organisation. They mainly work because they expect something from their organisation, whilst engaged employees are focused on giving something more to their organisation.

The essence of employee engagement is therefore to achieve mutual commitment between the company and the employees. It can also be defined as:

  • Unlocking employee potential to drive higher levels of performance, and
  • Capturing discretionary effort i.e. the above and beyond effort people could give if they wanted to.

Engagement is therefore about capturing your employees’ hearts and minds resulting in discretionary effort. This is the magic dust that leads to a high performing, growing business.

According to the Employment Engagement Group highly engaged employees are:

  • 480% more committed to helping their companies succeed,
  • 250% more likely to recommend improvements,
  • 370% more likely to recommend their company as an employer.


The scary part is:

Employees with lower engagement levels are 4 times more likely to leave their jobs than those who are highly engaged,
Disengaged managers are 3 times more likely to have disengaged employees,
7 out of 10 employees are disengaged or actively disengaged, only 30% is therefore engaged.
The number 1 way to boost engagement is through a trustworthy leadership team (refer to Blog 2) i.e. a team that cares about employees, displays integrity and demonstrates competence.

C-level executives (such as the CEO and CFO) see employee engagement as one of the biggest threats and opportunities in driving business results. It is therefore up to the leadership to make it happen.

If you need support to better align your organisation, measure or improve your employee engagement practices, the Marathon Team would love to assist you.


Next month:

In our next blog we will explore the 4th discipline of Organisational Health i.e. Healthy Culture.

A healthy culture is the glue that binds a healthy organisation together. It is the footsteps of leadership, the unwritten behaviour and decision-making patterns of your organisation and the most important enabler of your business strategy.

Let’s go…and let’s build high performing, growing businesses through high levels of alignment and engagement.

For Enquiries

Marius Botha | +27 912 2900

Meaning before money

We believe that making meaning comes before making money. Since founding Marathon, we have therefore invested our time in under-resourced organisational projects where our skills make a meaningful difference. Projects where we are involved include:







For more information about our community projects, please contact us.