Leaders Must Align Middle Management with Strategy to Create Enough Commitment
For strategic plans to truly succeed, companies need to align middle management with strategy.
Our organizational alignment research found that strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performance. It also found that middle management plays a powerful role in getting strategically aligned.
When managers are deeply engaged with a company’s strategic priorities, they report higher levels of confidence in where the company is headed and increased motivation to help execute the plan to get there.
When Middle Management Is Left Out of Strategic Design and Planning
But when middle management is left out of strategy retreat facilitation, the strategy design, and the strategy planning processes, even well-designed strategies run into major roadblocks to change because they and their teams do not know how to:
The Consequences of Under Involvement
Serious strategic, cultural, and operational disconnects can occur when there are even the slightest of strategic gaps between leaders and middle management. And do not be fooled into complacency by people’s apparent commitment to the big picture strategy. Although most managers’ report high levels of desire to commit to their company’s overall strategy, they also confess that they struggle to understand how the strategy relates to their own roles and responsibilities and to the roles and activities of other employees.
The results? Even if the leadership team is aligned strategically, misaligned middle management will cause the corporate strategy to fail to meet expectations and waste precious company time and resources.
What Executives Need to Do to Align Middle Management with Strategy
You will know you are on the right path when middle managers can connect their teams’ strategic purpose, plan, and role to those around them.
You will know you are on the right path when teams have a realistic view of where they are today, agree upon the key future scenarios that matter most, and have a plan to act once the scenarios are triggered.
You will know you are on the right path when metrics for success are transparently shared, discussed, and acted upon.
The Bottom Line
Too many leaders fear that involving middle management in the strategy design and planning process will slow things down. In fact, with strategy and people, you need to go slow to go fast. Have the courage to actively include more people and more perspectives into your strategic planning process to speed up your strategy implementation.
To learn more about creating strategic clarity for your teams, download Is Your Business Strategy Clear Enough?
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