The good news is that you have a carefully crafted business strategy that has been well communicated and is understood throughout the organization. The bad news is that you have not regularly challenged its implementation across the company. Are you sure that it is working as you and your executive team had hoped? If not, it is time to ask the questions that will test its viability and its effectiveness.
You need to consistently ask:
1. Who is our most important customer?
This question can be answered in a variety of ways. Some companies allocate their resources to satisfy their shareholders first and foremost; others consider their employees or their consumers as their primary customer. There is no “right” answer. Your choice of #1 Customer should be based on what makes the most sense for your business as you consider company core competencies, the goals of the leaders, and where you think you can be most successful. Amazon, for instance, has selected their consumers as their primary customer and focuses all its energies and most of its resources on putting the needs and wants of the consumer first.
2. Are we tracking the right performance data?
There are many different ways to measure performance. Will you know more by measuring more? Well, you might but what would you do with that knowledge? The important factor here is that you focus on the critical few metrics that matter most and that will lead you to effective action. Your performance scorecard should track only the success metrics that let you know whether your strategy is failing or succeeding. Whether it is employee engagement, financial strength, customer satisfaction or product quality, the key measures should be aligned with your vision, mission, values and strategic imperatives. Consider your focus and prioritize your performance tracking so you can respond with real-time decisions and targeted actions.
3. Are you keeping the right amount of performance pressure on?
Presumably, the entire workforce is behind your strategy. You saw how they all bought into the strategic plan at the start. But are they losing sight of the goal? It is up to you to keep the performance pressure on in a way that engages, focuses and inspires your team. Keep measuring strategic progress, ensure the agreed-upon milestones are visible to all, and don’t buffer your employees from the realities of the business. A little creative tension combined with fair and accurate success metrics, a clear and compelling vision and relevant and meaningful goals will spur new effort, commitment and innovation.
4. Are employees working toward strategic goals collaboratively?
High levels of collaboration and employee engagement are strong indicators of an effective business strategy with an aligned organizational culture. When workers have a sense of pride and ownership in the company direction, they buy in to its success. When they feel the entire team is pulling in the same direction, they identify with the organization and are proud of their contribution. When they are treated fairly, they are more apt to help their team mates and go the extra mile. When they trust their leaders and their coworkers to perform at the best of their ability, they have a sense of overarching purpose.
Having put the time and energy into creating a business strategy that makes sense for you and your organization, don’t let it fall short for a lack of testing and questioning its effectiveness all along the way.
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Vice President of Human Resources
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