The strategic planning offsite went well, did it?
The team doesn’t seem to “get” the strategy that you and the rest of the leadership team formulated. Much less the even bigger-picture purpose and vision.
Nobody seems as aware of the overall direction of the business as you’d like. Even though you had a big meeting after the off-site to let them know all about it.
That, right there, is the issue.
It’s great that you’ve taken the time to gather your team(s) and guide them through a slick slideshow and given them the opportunity to ask as many questions as they wanted...we'd guess there weren't too many.
It’s not that they’re not interested.
They are. But they’re busy…caught up in the day-to-day of getting things done. Ironically, they’re too busy making their individual contribution to the strategy of the business to fully appreciate what that strategy is.
We know. You’ve told them. But it’s not enough.
We’ve posted about this before so here’s a refresher on the key things you ought to do to truly bring your team along on the strategic ride.
Your "town hall meeting" isn't enough.
First up, the information download to your team following your offsite is a useful start. On its own though, it’s likely to be something of a “sugar hit” and its impact will probably wear off quite quickly.
Many businesses back up this initial communication with quarterly team updates. Sadly, these often don’t do the trick either. Let’s face it…there’s not much point in updating your team on a message they didn’t really absorb the first time around.
It’s human nature…people tend to forget stuff that’s not “in their faces” (in the nicest way possible).
How, then, can you keep strategy top of mind?
Logically once you’ve mapped out your strategy, business planning will come next. This offers several opportunities to revisit and reinforce key strategic messages at a more micro level:
During the business planning process you should frequently pause and confirm that your plans are indeed likely to support strategy. There’s just one question you need to ask at each of these checkpoints which is, “how will the shorter term initiatives now being proposed contribute to us achieving our strategy (and vision and purpose)?”
These points quite probably sound ridiculously obvious and smothered in common sense. We agree and wonder why so many businesses don’t take these simple business planning steps.
With the business plans in good shape it’s time to get into “who does what by when”. The end game here of course is to ensure everyone in the business has a clear set of measurable, time-bound objectives. More than that, those objectives should also be clearly relatable to strategy.
Agreeing those objectives with team members is another great opportunity to reinforce the direction of the business - strategy, vision and purpose - with every team member. At the start, during, and on completion of the objective setting process reality checks should be built in.
Remember, this stage of planning is all about setting the parameters for individual team members against which their performance can be measured over time. It surely makes sense that part of “performance” is their direct and indirect contribution to the aspirations of the business.
You probably have a performance management process in place in your business which we’d suggest you review to ensure it creates and enhances that link between day-to-day operations and strategy.
Next, take some time to think about your team meetings. If you’re like many (most?) businesses they’re quite probably a bit all over the place. Even with tight agendas, team meetings can end up feeling a bit pointless.
Sure there’s lots of information shared: sales updates, client servicing issues, workflow progress, financial outcomes and so forth.
But here’s a challenge for you…next time you run or attend a team meeting, have a look around the room and ask yourself how many people appear to be truly engaged in what’s going on. We’re betting the answer will be “not too many” (or at least “not as many as probably there should be…”).
That lack of engagement comes from a sense of disconnection - those folks looking bored are most likely asking themselves “what’s this got to do with me?”
That’s a treatable symptom.
A great team meeting has strategy at its core.
And the way to put strategy at the core and keep it there is to ensure every update provided by every team is given in the context of that strategy.
Ask each person providing an update to end with a simple statement:
“this has contributed to the business strategy because………”.
As this becomes part of your regular meeting structure it helps provide clarity and consistency across the business. It will encourage people to frame their updates around strategy and help deepen understanding of how everyone is working together for a common outcome.
What about your business?
None of what we’ve covered here is hard to do. Research has proven time and again that people want to understand how their day to day work fits into the big picture and these small initiatives will help enhance that understanding.
The benefit for your business will be deeper understanding across the business of its strategic direction. Not only that, you’ll find a greater tendency to collaboration and cooperation as people begin to better understand who does what (and more importantly why).
And that can only be good for business, your customers and your people.
Why not give BusinessBlades a call?
Of course we can't think of a good reason why you wouldn't want to review how you embed your strategy across your team. We'd be happy to have a conversation to let you know how we can help you.
So give us a call or drop us a note and we'll get back to you to get the ball rolling.
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