In a recent blog we highlighted what we consistently see as the top 5 pitfalls in executing strategy. The fix may be easy but not without the right amount of attention and focus. The following outlines what needs to happen to ensure success.
Communicate strategic initiatives and goals through the entire organization:
At every opportunity help employees see how they connect to the big picture. Their focus is on day to day delivery. To embrace the organization’s vision and strategy employees have to be reminded of it frequently. Take advantage of team meetings, all employee meetings and email communication to identify the connection to strategy. Some say it can take repeating the same message 7 times others say it’s 22 times before people will hear it! Whatever the number, the message for senior leaders is the same – communicate, communicate and communicate again. Connect everyone to strategy. Every employee should be able to speak about some part of the strategy.
Align strategy across the organization:
Without the consistent ‘one team’ reminders functional gremlins can infiltrate teams. Silos become more predominate and when unchecked will influence how people think and behave. Senior team leaders must be able to articulate how the team supports and contributes to organizational goals. They must understand the alignment and focus required across the organization (horizontal alignment) and from the top through to front line workers (vertical alignment). They must be able to create followership of the team to a common vision and strategy.
Align individual performance expectations to strategy:
Ideally everyone has some skin in the game. Those individuals who direct and manage team outputs must have their performance criteria connected to the results expected to deliver strategy. Strategic goals and objectives need to be cascaded through each team to as many levels as possible. Performance documents I.E. job profiles/descriptions, work plans, objectives criteria, project plans etc. need to reflect the individual, team and organizational requirements that will help deliver the right results.
Hold people accountable:
Too often we hear that strategy is owned by someone else and when things go wrong everyone points a finger in the opposite direction. Or we look to the top of the organization to see who’s to blame. Even though people may be tied to performance ‘on paper’, we often see leaders reward efforts without delivering results. Surveys indicate that only 25% of managers have compensation tied to successful strategy execution. The greater the manager’s line of sight and connection with strategy the more risk and reward. This is ‘Pay for Performance’. Rewarding efforts in absence of results is dangerous precedence setting and a slippery slope of entitlement.
Review progress on an on-going basis:
All employees need to know how you’re doing. Celebrate the small milestones along the way to sustain enthusiasm through the year. People want to be part of a winning team. Reviewing results only at year end robs the organization of proactively managing the business and engaging people. It also makes it challenging to course correct if plans start to break down.
Executives would say that there are potentially many problems and issues with execution of strategy. A great deal of time and money is invested in developing strategy. All too often the execution is overlooked. Plans sit on shelves collecting dust only to be brought out again at year end when managers scramble to get things done. An effectively executed strategy truly can be the road map for organization growth and success. But the road map is only as effective as the organizational team that embraces it.