Long-term, rock solid strategic plans may be relics of the past, but future scenario planning is in vogue. One of Communications most critical tasks is to communicate strategy so that employees work in alignment with the company’s key priorities.
Today, as priorities shift frequently and employees are overwhelmed with information, it’s harder than ever to not only communicate the company strategy, but fully enable it to be implemented through good communication.
If you really want your strategy to stick, we think that you need to create a forum for conversation with and among employees that focuses on what’s behind the strategy; that is, the market context and assumptions that underpin it. After all, employee understanding of this important, but little discussed information is a top-three driver of employee agility.
To consider the difference, let’s explore two alternative communication approaches to strategy kickoffs—a common vehicle used to “share strategy”. In the first, the strategy is communicated at a large town hall. In the second, the assumptions or influences on the strategy are used to generate conversation among employees and enable them to make decisions daily in line with strategy.
The Straightforward Approach
At Company A, the Communications team organizes a major strategy kickoff session at the beginning of each year. Employees at headquarters crowd into an auditorium while those at regional offices dial-in to listen to the standard hour-long teleconference. The CEO and his cadre of senior leaders run through the company’s top four or five priorities for the year. In sparse PowerPoint slides, they explain the “why” behind the strategy and paint a picture of what success will look like. Bold, energizing statements like “In five years, we will be the number one retailer of socks in Brazil!” flow freely.
As the hour draws to a close, the CEO asks employees if they have any questions. Rare, however, is the organization where an employee questions and challenges a strategy in a room with peers and her manager. And so, the strategy effectively communicated, employees race back to their desks and full Outlook inboxes, and pick up where they left off, the new strategy already a vague memory. Read More »