How to Connect Your Employees to Your Strategy
How can you get your employees to care about your organisational strategy? (because right now, they probably don't).
It is not what any senior leadership team wants to hear, but the reality is that a lot of employees do not care about the strategy of the organisation they are working for. This needs attention because when you have buy-in to the strategy at all levels of the organisation, it not only drives execution and performance, but also creates motivation and positive energy within the organisation.
So, this raises the question - how can you connect your employees to your strategy and vision in a meaningful way?
3 Reasons employees find it challenging to connect with organisational strategy
There are a number of reasons that can contribute to employees feeling disconnected from the organisation's strategy.
1. We all view the world through the lens of our context.
While it may be obvious to the senior leaders how all of the pieces of the jigsaw fit together, most employees are firmly stuck on their piece of the jigsaw, and they are not seeing the whole puzzle. Connecting the individual to what the strategy means at three levels is essential. They should understand what it means for their role, the role of their team, and the role of the organisation – often these three levels are not addressed in strategy activation.
2. When the vision and strategic goals seem too ambitious or lofty it can create fear or disengagement.
Employees are quick to dismiss plans that sound impossible to them and if those plans sound disruptive this can create fear. Although most of us say that we would welcome change in our organisations, not many of us want to embrace disruptive change in our roles.
We believe we may end up worse off than before, or our status in the organisation may be threatened. To counter fear and disengagement, there should be appropriate involvement of employees at all stages from strategy development to activation.
Strong change management principles should be deployed, with a persuasive case for change and benefits that your employees can relate to. At activation stage there should be equal focus on what is the staying the same as well as what is changing, to provide a sense of security and stability to employees.
3. Finally, there are some employees who just don't care and see the strategy as irrelevant to them.
The key to connect with this cohort is involvement and purpose. Making the strategy hard to ignore by involving employees will bring some of the reluctant cohort along. Even better, if you can create your strategy in service to your purpose, it can become an idea and plan that employees really care about.
5 Steps to connect your employees to your strategy:
1. Start with your purpose
Purpose can add a layer of meaning for employees that is motivating. If you don't have your purpose defined, uncover it. Spend time on socialising the purpose with your people managers so that they can make this a part of team conversations and activities.
The purpose should be the north star for the vision and strategy, so when you create and talk about the strategic goals link their impact back to your purpose.
2. Make employee consultation & involvement part of your process
A strategy is a change so make use of tried and tested change management principles. Make sure you have understood your employees as stakeholders in the change. Have they been consulted, informed, and given clear responsibilities throughout the strategy process.
Do you have a coalition who are backing the change? Does this coalition involve employees across the organisation and at all levels of the organisation?
Have you created the necessary conditions for psychological safety so that consultation and involvement is effective and impactful?
3. Create alignment at every stage
Alignment is essential so that everyone is pulling in the same direction. This can not be a once-off effort at the strategy development stage. Alignment needs to be maintained throughout the execution of the strategy, it should be continuous, and leaders need to be vigilant about this.
Strategy needs to be translated into goals for the organisation, teams, and individuals, and each employee needs to understand these three layers. Goals need to be seen as achievable; Break them into smaller chunks and celebrate and recognise progress; this helps to maintain alignment.
4. When activating your strategy pay attention to behaviours and culture
Don't think about strategy in isolation; It is inextricably linked to your culture and values. All strategies require the organisational culture to support them in order to make the intended impact. Strategy is ultimately about behaviour change, and you should use your values to drive the desired behaviours.
Your culture may also present barriers to activating your strategy. Do you know what behaviours or norms are getting in the way? Don't guess what these barriers are, use employee consultation and involvement to find them out, and pay particular attention to the challenges your middle management raise.
This will connect your senior leader with the reality of employees. When you surface these challenges, don't ignore them, or hope they go away. Start with senior leaders having an honest conversation about where these barriers come from and get senior leaders to commit to taking action to fix them.
5. Communicate, communicate, communicate!
During the strategy process, you need to win hearts and minds - and this needs to happen every day. An essential part of this is having a compelling story at the organisational level: About the journey to date, the vision for the future, the strategy to get there and the case for change.
At a team and individual level, it means equipping team leaders to have good conversations about the strategy. This needs to happen often, and the messages need to be clear and consistent.
Finally, communicate progress. Celebrate through stories of strategy 'in action,' especially when sharing small stories and quick wins, is just as important as communicating the goals.
Make sure you take these 5 steps to connect all employees to your strategy and vision in a meaningful way.
Start with your purpose.
Make employee consultation and involvement a key part of your strategy process.
Create alignment at every stage of the process.
When activating your strategy, pay attention to behaviours and culture
Communicate, communicate, communicate!
If you need help connecting your employees to your strategy, contact us today!