Hey manager, leave your ivory tower and get on the dance floor. Translate and communicate your strategy actively. Become the company storyteller and troubadour!
For Chief Execs and Board members alike, strategy is part of everyday language. It’s what has been set via months of market evaluations, business analysis and board meetings. Agreement amongst the ranks that this is what the company is going to do, be and achieve.
However, reports by Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index in the US, highlighted that over 52% of employees are disengaged when it comes to strategy. And according to a study by Harvard Business School, over 95% of employees don’t actually understand what their company strategy is.
It draws a line almost between employees and executives. With culture and strategy at this point starting to divide, no one is working towards a common goal.
How buy-in is lost: being too secretive about company goals
One of the main reasons is a lack of understanding or knowledge about the strategy. There aren’t many companies out there who will share their full business plan with all members of staff.
Of course not! That contains confidential and sensitive information. So instead what is received is a small stripped down version. A business plan with a few pictures and highlighted text parts. Mainly the bottom line figures.
How much profit the company wants to generate and roughly the areas in which this money is to come from. Very rarely is there any logic behind it or rationale. All of a sudden we’re under the illusion that strategy is simply how much profit the company wants to achieve.
How buy-in is lost: no proper strategy translation
Another reason is because the strategy hasn’t been translated properly. Employees don’t know or understand how a particular task they’re carrying out directly affects the overall strategy. A further study of 23,000 workers found that only 20% actually understood how their tasks related to the organisations goals and strategies!
Creating a commitment strategy: strategy is storytelling
Creating commitment across all levels means providing a level of understanding. In that if you asked anyone what the company strategy is, they could answer in their own words with a sound level of understanding.
Making staff feel that they are invested in can have a great impact. Positive indicators that what they’re doing is keeping the company on the right track.
Getting employees to become invested can be done by:
- Feedback - not always from direct managers
- Training - suitable and relevant to help achieve strategic priorities
- Mentoring - providing possible opportunities for progression
These make everyone feel part of the bigger picture. They make every feel included.
Creating a commitment strategy: strategy is goal personalization
Which leads on to communication. In that, there actually has to be some. We acknowledge that ‘yes’ all of the information can’t be shared with all members of staff.
However, there needs to be rationale behind what you’re asking teams to do. They have to see past the profit margins. Then it can be broken down into tactics and objectives, which directly show a link back to achievement of part of the strategy.
For example, writing a press release might seem like nothing to do with impacting on strategy as it might not generate sales. But what if part of the strategy was to raise the brand profile of the company within the region? That local press release which was achieved, then starts to create the impact. Showing how this translates into supporting that one particular element of the strategy.
Communication needs to also be filtered correctly. Senior managers need to pass information down. Hold gather rounds or informal q and a’s. Strategy should also be visible. Yes, have the business plan shrunk down and a copy for all employees to cherish. But also make it available on company intranets. Place posters around certain points in the office to remind people of some of the most important objectives.
For example if part of your company strategy is to become the number one at customer service – place signs within your customer service department. Things such as “can your customer hear you smile” and “a phone only rings here twice before someone answers”.
That way everyone knows what they’re working towards and why. They’re not simply throwing themselves across the table to answer the phone before it gets to the third ring, because their objective and pay rise depend on it!
They want to be involved, they want to feel part of something. It is this type of commitment that companies need to create.
Is it worth the effort?
It might sound all a bit too much. Making sure all members of staff are fully committed in order for strategy to be executed but…
Research by the Corporate Leadership Council shows that even just a 10% improvement in commitment can help to increase an employee’s discretionary effort by 6%.
What’s more, their performance will also increase by a further 2%. Overall, their research found that highly committed employees perform at a 20% higher level than non-committed employees.
For strategy to be not only executed but executed well, you need complete buy-in from the whole organisation. The outcome and how your strategy is delivered will show you just how committed your employees are.
It is this that will set you against your competition. Committed employees will stay with you to help you achieve what you have all set out to achieve.