The Case for Company Alignment

By Bill DeMent
Monday, October 10, 2022

When I was in high school many years ago, I bought an old pickup truck. I loved that truck and worked on it and fixed things and drove it everywhere. It did, however, have one annoying habit. Without notice it would suddenly dart off to the right and almost drive me into the ditch, or it would dart off to the left and into oncoming traffic. It was almost unusable because of this quirk.

I was worried about driving the truck, thinking something was seriously wrong with it, and I was going to get injured. I talked to my Dad about it hoping he would have an idea about what was going on with it. He did!

He said that I had an alignment problem. You see, both front wheels should be aiming the same way at the same time. Mine were not. If the wheels are not going the same way and are pulling or pushing against each other an unstable and dangerous situation exist.

Armed with this information, I had my mechanic align the front wheels and the issue disappeared. The truck no longer darted one way or the other. It simply tracked down the road with ease and stability. It was a different truck now and a joy to drive.

Years later I noticed a similar situation in my business. I had an employee, “Evan”, who always wanted to do the job his own way. Now, that is not always a bad thing. We encourage employees to look for better ways to do things, think for themselves, and find improvements in our process.

Evan did good work but was often late for work, disrespectful of fellow employees and management, used foul language , was constantly on his phone while on the job, and argumentative with everyone. These behaviors did not match who we were as a company and caused a lot of friction. We had an alignment issue.

Hole in the Wall has developed, over the years, a unique and professional way of conducting ourselves with each other and especially with customers. We call it “The Hole in the Wall Way”. It is a system of doing the larger things well by doing the many small things well. It has truly set us apart in our industry.

When a new employee is hired he is led through a training process that outlines the company’s goals and the expectations required for him to succeed at Hole in the Wall.

Company policies and procedures are clearly presented at time of hiring.

The new employee is paired with seasoned and experienced employees for a probationary period who will model “ The Hole in the Wall” way of doing the job.

Only after an employee has exhibited an understanding, and has demonstrated the ability to perform the job to the Hole in the Wall standards will he be considered for advancement in the company.

This formula has been successful for us for many years, because it lays out clearly what is necessary for an employee to align with us and be successful at Hole in the Wall.

Some employees that we have hired have not worked out for us and for a variety of reasons. Whatever the reason is that a new hire does not succeed, it can always be traced back to one common theme. Like Evan, the employee simply did not come into alignment with us. They wanted to do things their own way. Just like that old truck of mine with an alignment issue, it made my business unstable and unpredictable.

It should be the goal of every business to have the management and all employees moving in the same direction, maintaining alignment. It makes for a smoother ride for everyone.

In the end, most employees who cannot align with Hole in the Wall will show themselves the exit door. It is disappointing when an employee leaves. Sometimes it has left us short handed for a few days. But we have discovered that it is better to be short handed than to have an alignment problem.