How to get your employees engaged with your strategy…

Have you ever been asked “Why are we doing this initiative?” or “Why did we stop focusing on this activity?” These seem like innocent questions, but as a business leader, you might start to worry. The answers are in your strategy, and whether it was just launched last week or is in your plan from three years ago, your team should be using it as a resource for these kinds of questions.

If this situation sounds familiar, it’s time to look again at whether everyone understands your strategic plan. Below are three common challenges, I often hear, with getting teams to understand and follow your strategy:

No connection to the strategy

Employees may be interacting with strategic initiatives every day, but that doesn’t mean they understand how their role connects to the strategy itself. If team members struggle to make an association between their daily work and the three year direction of the company, they won’t understand or remember much of the strategic plan.

These tips can help you connect employees to the strategy:

  • Using the business cards from the strategy above, ask teams to circle the initiatives they contribute to most and write how they contribute. Share these cards in internal meetings.
  • Have your leadership team highlight the contributions of one team per month, giving shoutouts to work that is directly supporting the strategy.

No interaction with the strategy

If you asked everyone in your company, how many people could name the key themes or initiatives in your strategy off the top of their head ? If the answer is just a few, you may not be doing enough to make employees aware of it.

It’s common for teams to learn about a strategy via ‘town hall’ sessions or via the intranet, which likely happens only once a quarter at best. Most employees don’t interact with the strategy or have any knowledge of it beyond this communication, making it easy to forget.

Here are some simple ways to increase team interaction with the strategy:

  • Print your key quarterly initiatives on business cards. Ask people to carry it with them—this is called a “pocket strategy.”
  • Dedicate internal communications to themes and initiatives. For example, post your key themes on the staff noticeboard, share success stories in meetings, and give attention to individuals and projects that represent key areas of your strategy.

No link between current activities and future strategy

Strategies are typically visions three years into the future of a company. Should you wait until the end of those three years to reevaluate your strategy? Obviously not, but some companies end up in this boat purely by lack of foresight. If you’re not consistently linking what your company does currently with your long-term vision of the future, your strategic plan won’t seem relevant.

Here are some tips to link current activities with future strategies:

  • Include KPIs and targets in your strategy. Start with a three year target, then work backward to create KPIs for each year sharing results along the way.
  • Link initiatives to your strategy. For example, when you are investing in upgrading ley software, explain how recent innovations connect to the strategy.
  • Meet regularly and share progress across the company.

Download Tips on Creating a High Growth Strategy ebook here

Quote

"Without a strategy, the organization is like a ship without a rudder, going around in circles." Joel Ross and Michael Kami

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