Securing Strategic Buy-In to Get Better Results
Experienced leaders know that strategic buy-in matters. Even the most brilliant corporate strategies can fail miserably if your key stakeholders do not understand, believe in, and fully commit to your plans for success.
High performing leaders seem to have cracked the code on how to get strategic buy-in, not only from the executives who designed the strategies in the first place but also from the employees who must implement them.
The Frustration of Strategy Execution
Leaders tell us that one of the most frustrating parts of their job is to try to implement a new strategic plan without the full support of those required to make it a success. If the leadership team, their direct reports, and the rest of the organization are not aligned, your strategy is most likely doomed to underdeliver.
Successful companies understand the critical role stakeholders at all levels of an organization play in effectively accomplishing strategic goals.
The Relationship Between Strategic Buy-In and Performance
Recent research by the Economist Intelligence Unit found an across-the-board correlation between organizations with buy-in to the corporate strategy at every level and above-average profitability. Among the companies surveyed, the highest performing organizations consistently reported higher levels of strategic clarity, belief, commitment, and meaning across all levels of the organization than their lower performing peers.
While strategic buy-in often gets weaker the farther you get from the executive team, the highest performing companies get company-wide buy-in. The highest performers reported over a 3 times greater level of strategic commitment from middle management, front line managers, and line employees than their lower performing peers.
5 Tips to Increase Strategic Buy-In
Your strategy must go through your people and your workplace culture to be successfully implemented. Here is how to make sure that your strategy is set up for success after your next strategy retreat:
While it sounds a bit crazy from a cost and logistics perspective to create a strategic plan from scratch with an entire organization all in one room, there are effective ways to align every level of your company to what matters most through mini-strategy and feedback sessions.
You will know that you are ready to begin to execute your strategy when all key stakeholders can articulate the strategy, believe that it will lead to success, and feel like they have the right quality people to pull it off.
The good news is that workplace culture can be measured by understanding the way people think, behave, and work.
To truly get strategic buy-in from key stakeholders, those responsible for executing the strategy must believe that the way work gets done — the alignment level of your workplace culture — is helping and not hindering their ability to execute the strategic priorities. To get strategic buy-in, do not underestimate the need to get enough buy-in of your cultural norms.
While organizational silos can foster powerful subject matter expertise and focus, executives who want to fuel high levels of company-wide growth complain that silos lack the necessary levels of transparency and permeability between functions to maximize synergies.
Whenever possible, encourage collaboration across functions by setting goals that require functions and teams to work together in order to be successful. Than use whatever means work best at your organization to communicate what matters most — role modeling by leaders, all day events, town halls, team meetings, webinars, videos, corporate newsletters, etc.
Your regular solicitation of thoughts shows that you value employee opinions and ideas — positive or negative. Of course, in order to receive honest feedback, you need to have already established an environment of employee feedback where thoughts are encouraged and acted upon when appropriate.
If you want to encourage buy-in to your strategic direction, make sure that employees feel like it is worth the struggle to improve and change both their performance and their behaviors.
The Bottom Line
The more you get stakeholders on board from the beginning, the easier time you will have implementing new strategies, and ways of working. Leaders with high performing strategy execution recognize the critical role employees at all levels of the organization play in achieving strategic results. Is your organization doing all it can to get company-wide buy-in for your strategic priorities?
To learn more about how to set your business strategy up for success, download 3 Big Mistakes to Avoid When Cascading Your Corporate Strategy
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