Communicating Your Strategic Plan with Employees – Surprising Research

Communicating Your Strategic Plan with Employees – Surprising Research
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Communicating Your Strategic Plan with Employees Matters
Communicating your strategic plan with employees is about creating understanding, belief and cohesion.  Being clear and consistent with strategy communications pays big dividends to the people AND to the business.

Why Strategic Understanding Matters to the Business
Our organizational alignment research found that strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing organizations in terms of:

  • Revenue growth
  • Profitability
  • Customer loyalty
  • Employee engagement

Why Strategic Understanding Matters to Employees
Our employee engagement data over the last three years shows that “employees trusting that leaders have set the right strategic course” has the second highest correlation to employee engagement right after leadership’s perceived “commitment to making it a great place to work.”

Additionally, employees tell us that it is difficult and frustrating to be expected to help move a strategic plan forward unless they fully understand and buy-into the:

  • Unique role that they play
  • Specific contribution that they make
  • Critical few reasons why the strategy will make them, their team and the company successful

Research about Communicating Your Strategic Plan with Employees
Research reported by Harvard turned up some rather surprising data about communicating your strategic plan with employees.  After analyzing over 60,000 survey responses, they expected to find that strategy was best understood and accepted by:

  • Higher-level employees
  • Those who were generally content with their compensation
  • Employees who had a positive view of their organization

And the results bore out those anticipated results.

It makes sense to us that those who are more involved in creating the strategy would better understand and accept it.  It also makes sense that more engaged employees tend to feel more connected to the company goals.

The Surprising Part about Communicating Your Strategic Plan with Employees
But what was surprising about communicating your strategic plan with employees was that top leadership had a far greater impact and much greater direct role on how well employees “got” the strategy than their immediate supervisors.

While employees still want their direct supervisors to help them to translate the overall strategy for their team and for their job, they want to hear more directly from top leaders about overall strategies, perspectives and trends first to set the stage.

Most leaders assume that employees want to hear about strategies from their direct boss instead of a “corporate executive” who is not “in the trenches.” These findings have significant implications for leaders who want to successfully cascade their strategy across an organization.

The Implications on Cascading Your Strategy
What does this mean to companies embarking on a new strategy that requires focus, commitment and perseverance? It means that leadership communication strategies probably need to be adjusted.

Instead of having:

Leaders should investigate playing a more active role across all levels and functions.

How Important Is Your Strategy?
While this seems like a significant investment of a leader’s time, what could be more important than making sure your company understands, believes in and is fully committed to your critical few strategic plans and priorities? If you want to outperform your peers, invest the time to ensure your employees:

  • Clearly understand the strategic priorities and the rationale behind them
  • Can articulate how their work directly contributes to the overall success of the strategy
  • Believe the strategy will lead to successful results
  • Are committed to implementing the strategy successfully across the company

The Bottom Line
When you are thinking about communicating your strategic plan with employees, see that you bring senior leadership in more direct contact with employees to provide a broader and more seasoned message to the table.  Then use people managers to help translate the overall corporate strategies into reality at business unit, team and individual levels in a way that makes sense with your unique corporate culture.

To learn more about communicating your strategic plan with employees, download 5 Expert Tips to Better Communicate Your Strategy

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