Top 10 Strategy Answers that Employees Must Have

Top 10 Strategy Answers that Employees Must Have
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What Is Business Strategy?
In chess, strategic moves are made according to an overall plan to get the opponent into a checkmate.  In the military, it is the plan that sets up an operation for success.  In the corporate world, business strategy design serves as the guide to win over the competition; it considers all the influencing factors of the business and outlines the way to secure future success.  It encompasses the strategy answers that employees must have.

Designing a Business Strategy
It’s one thing to define “strategy”; it’s another to design one.  How do you separate a complex set of circumstances into factors that can become part of a winning strategy?  Leaders must analyze the current situation and put together a meaningful plan that will get the job done.

The Top Ten Strategy Answers that Employees Must Have
Here are ten strategy answers that employees must have if they are to successfully and consistently execute the business strategy.  Once they are fully answered and clear to all key stakeholders, your teams can fire on all cylinders.

  1. What Is the Current Situation?
    Until you know where you are, it’s impossible to create an effective strategic plan to get to where you want to go. To set your strategy up for success you need to gather and share enough market, industry, customer, employee, financial, and competitor information to feel confident in making tough strategic choices.

    Often resulting in a SWOT analysis outlining major Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, it is critical for all key stakeholders to be on the same page about the current situation.

  2. What Are We Really About?
    Once everyone understands the current situation, the next step is to ensure that everyone understands and commits to the company’s strategic drivers – the vision, mission, and values. The strategic vision represents what the company hopes to become.  The company mission statement defines the organization’s fundamental purpose.  And the corporate values are the core beliefs that guide key decisions and behaviors.

    Sound strategic drivers provide employees with a sense of meaning in their work that provides the foundation for a healthy organizational culture.  You will know you are headed in the right direction when everyone can articulate and buy into your strategic drivers and the rationale behind them.

  3. How Will Strategic Success and Failure be Measured?
    People, especially high performers, like to know where they stand. Once the strategic drivers are clear, the next step is to ensure that everyone knows how success and failure will be measured and shared at the individual, team, and organization levels.  Done right, clarity about success and failure creates the high levels of transparency, certainty, decisiveness, accountability, and alignment required to build a high performance culture.

    You will know you are headed in the right direction when it is clear what constitutes high and low performance in terms of both desired results and expected behaviors.

  4. Who Are Our Ideal Target Clients?
    We define the ideal target client as the profile of the target market, segment, and buyer where you should win and succeed most of the time. Ideal target clients don’t just buy your stuff; they passionately buy and use what you have to offer.  They do not just need what you offer; they feel they must have what you offer.  They are not merely satisfied with what you offer; they are thrilled with what you offer.

    These attributes create repeat business, referrals, and testimonials to help build your business.  For employees to successfully execute your strategy, they should be crystal clear on who you are trying to satisfy and serve.

  5. What Sets Us Apart from the Competition?
    After you identify your target clients, employees need to understand your unique value proposition. Companies typically differentiate themselves in the areas of “better, faster, or cheaper.” Regardless of what you call it and how you frame it, it is worth the time and effort for employees to understand what specifically makes you better (from your target customers’ perspective) than your competition (and the other available alternatives).

    You will know that you are on the right path when employees can explain why specifically (from the client’s point of view) your offering is better than other alternatives.  And why your customers fundamentally want and need what you have to offer.

  6. What Are Our Big Bets Over the Next 12 to 24 Months?
    Now that you have set the strategic context with the current situation, strategic drivers, success metrics, target clients and value proposition, it is time to lay out your critical few strategic priorities for the upcoming year. We define the strategic big bets as the critical few 2-3 strategic initiatives that deserve topmost priority because they have the greatest comparative correlation to success. Together, they should account for 50% or more of the probability for strategic success, command the greatest attention, and receive all of the necessary resources.

    The big strategic bets should be at the top of your strategic dashboard, monitored weekly, and directly tied to your performance management, workforce planning, and compensation plans.You will know you are on the right path when every employee can describe the 2-3 strategic priorities that matter most and why.

  7. What Is the Action Plan to Get There?
    Once the strategic priorities are clear, people need to know what actions are necessary and in what order. Make sure that you break each strategic priority into specific goals, roles, and steps required to get there.

    You will know you are headed in the right direction when employees can describe each goal and outline a realistic plan to achieve the goals with agreed-upon and clear objectives, deliverables, tasks, sponsorship, scope, timeline, responsibilities, interdependencies, resources, and budget.

  8. How Will We Track Progress and Hold People Accountable?
    It is difficult to successfully implement a strategy across your company if employees do not know how they are doing along the way. Be transparent about who is accountable for each step in addition to how and when they will be held responsible for successful completion.  Add in enough flexibility for managers to have some autonomy as to how they handle their jobs and for the ability to adjust to changing conditions.
  9. What Are the Consequences of Failure?
    While many companies go to painstaking detail to describe what success will bring, few are clear about the consequences for underperforming. Our high performance research experts found that high performing cultures have clear definitions of failure and significant negative consequences for not meeting predetermined performance standards.

    For them to be effective, make sure that all strategic consequences and accountabilities are known in advance, fair, proportionate, timely, accurate, transparent, and meaningful.

  10. What Are the Benefits of Success?
    Now the fun part.  While the consequences for failure provide clarity about what you want your team to avoid, the benefits of success provide clarity about the intrinsic and extrinsic rewards and recognition that are available if you meet your targets.

    For them to be effective, make sure that all rewards and recognition are known in advance, fair, proportionate, timely, accurate, transparent, meaningful, and delivered with a clear cause and effect.

The Bottom Line
Turning strategic plans into reality isn’t easy, and certain leaders and companies are more successful at it than others.  According to recent research by McKinsey, the top two factors for successful strategy execution are clarity and ability to focus on priorities.  Our organizational alignment research agrees.  Make sure your employees have the strategy answers that employees must have.

If you liked the Top 10 Strategy Answers that Employees Must Have, download 3 Big Mistakes to Avoid When Cascading Your Corporate Strategy

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