Last year, we surveyed over 1,000 APAC professionals for our white paper – Leading and Managing in the Age of Disruption – and several statistics stood out.
One suggests that nearly a third of respondents (29%) thought their company did not follow a well-defined strategy at all. A further 49% thought that some strategy was followed but not communicated well.
It seems that too many managers like to keep strategy to themselves and rarely involve others. The minions are simply told what to do in a series of missives while management decide on the direction of travel and how to get there.
The most successful organisations, however, make a point of sharing strategy with their staff and involving them in the design process.
So, how do you successfully communicate strategy to your teams and get them involved? Here are 3 essential tips:
1. Keep your messaging simple
Too many managers these days get caught up in ‘management speak’ – talk of ‘leveraging’, ‘synergies’, ‘customer-centricity’ and other mind-boggling verbiage. One document recently suggested that team members should ‘leverage each other’s strengths’ when all they had to say was ‘help each other’. Explaining your strategy in a series of dense and convoluted language is going to inevitably fall on deaf ears.
Instead, keep your messages simple and get straight to the point. Yes, strategies can be complex beasts, but if you structure your explanation with a logical flow and write it in language that is accessible to all your team, it's more likely to get a decent response.
The thrust of your message when sharing your strategy should be about what marketing guru Simon Sinek calls your ‘why’. In other words, why are you planning to do what you’re doing and what do you expect to happen as a result? Endless paragraphs devoted to last year’s accounts and other non-essential facts and figures are a turn off. Only include what you need to get the message across.
2. Engage your audience
If you have a large workforce, then it’s worth investing in a campaign to share your strategy internally. You probably spend a lot of money on advertising, social media and the like, but have you given much thought to creating a compelling message for your people?The world has moved on from paper memos and reports, so use the tools you have available to create exciting and shareable content. Have managers explain the strategy in a video with some lively animation and music. Reference different aspects of the strategy in a series of tweets or blogs. Tell a story of how your strategy will impact your team and your organisation as well as your customers.
In today’s connected world, there’s no reason why internal communications should simply be dull and functional.
3. Inspire and reinforce
As well as getting your people to read and share your strategy, you want them to become advocates of it.
Inspire your team to believe in the strategy and get invested in it. If the strategy becomes a mission and your people understand how they play a vital role, they’re more likely to work hard and make it happen.
Reinforce the messaging at various times throughout the year, using a variety of channels. Keep people up-to-date with how the strategy is progressing and initiate dialogue so that improvements and changes can be made. Use social media or other in-house tools to facilitate this.
A successful strategy is not a static document but a continual work in progress.
If you bear all this in mind and spend some time thinking about how you communicate strategy to your colleagues, you’ll end up with some exciting results.
Cegos has several training programmes to help managers create, define and communicate their organisation’s strategy. Get in touch to find out more.