If your team believes that your strategy is a moving target that is never fully understood nor implemented, it is time to take stock of what’s going wrong.
Why can’t your team implement the business strategy that you and other senior leaders were so enthusiastic about?
We admit it’s not easy to successfully implement a strategy. And if you are struggling, you are not alone. Trying to pull together all your employees and focus them in one direction over a sustained period of time is a daunting challenge. We know from The Economist Intelligence Unit that almost two-thirds of strategies are woefully unsuccessful because of poor execution. We know from our own research that strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing organizations.
But in our two decades of work with corporate leaders who are intent on making their business strategy work, we have identified part of the problem. It’s in the communication…
One-Way Strategy Communication Approach
First, too many inexperienced leaders mistakenly believe that communicating the strategy through emails, town halls and slogans should be good enough for people to understand, believe in and execute their strategic plans. While marketing and messaging can certainly play a role in creating strategic clarity and commitment, business strategies are too nuanced and take too many adjustments to be satisfied with one-way communications.
Strategy Cascade Approach
Secondly, most leadership teams believe that the best way to communicate their corporate strategy is via the strategy cascade approach. The strategy cascade method involves senior leaders transferring the strategic goals to their direct reports who, in turn, communicate the plan to their direct reports who are tasked with interpreting the strategy to their teams.
The theory is that the corporate strategy will be passed along from level to level and end up in the hands of those who must implement it. While this is more effective than the one-way communication approach, this incorrectly assumes that employees throughout the organization will understand what they are to do and how what they do will contribution to the overall company performance.
We know from experience that, inevitably, things get muddled along the way based upon 5 common strategy cascade challenges:
The strategy cascading cure is three-fold.
When leaders communicate the strategy directly, make sure that employees understand how they contribute toward the goal, and see that the resources are allocated appropriately, successful strategy execution is within reach.
To learn more about strategic clarity and communication, download The 3 Big Mistakes to Avoid When Communicating and Cascading Your Corporate Strategy
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