5 Tips to Get More Strategic Buy-In

5 Tips to Get More Strategic Buy-In
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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 on the same page, your strategy is most likely doomed to under deliver.  Successful companies understand the critical role stakeholders at all levels of an organization play in gracefully 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 culture to be successfully implemented.  Here is how to make sure that your strategy is set up for success:

  1. Actively Involve All Key Stakeholders Early and Often
    The days of slowly cascading strategies from the C-Suite to the frontline are over. The telephone game does not work in fast moving, complex, and matrixed organizations.  If you want all your employees to understand, believe in, and commit to your strategic priorities, you must actively involve them in the strategy design and planning process from the very beginning.

    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.

  2. Realize that Strategy Execution is Culture
    To be successfully implemented, your business strategy must go through your organizational culture. We define culture as how and why work truly gets done in an organization across the three C’s of Culture – Health, High Performance, and Strategic Alignment.  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 – 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.

  1. Promote Collaboration Among Peers
    Today, most strategies require heavy levels of cross-functional collaboration and teamwork to succeed. A recent survey from the AMA found that 97 percent of executives think that silos have a negative effect on organizational health, performance, and customer experience.  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.  Use whatever means work best at your organization to communicate what matters most – all day events, town halls, team meetings, webinars, videos, corporate newsletters, etc.

  2. Measure and Communicate Progress
    In high performing companies, people know where they stand and how the company is tracking toward the stated objectives. Check in regularly to see how things are going.  The more you know about what your employees are thinking and how they are feeling, the better equipped you are as a leader to respond in a timely way to important issues and concerns.

    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.

  3. Recognize and Reward the New Way
    High performing companies effectively recognize and reward the behaviors and results that they seek to best execute their strategies. Effective reward and recognition components are also co-created with key stakeholders and are perceived as proportionate, fair, meaningful, relevant, and aligned.  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 plans, new strategies, and new 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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