Communicating Your Strategy
You've got a business strategy. Do your employees know what it is? Here's how to make your organization think strategically and help you achieve those ambitious strategic goals.
You've got a vision to take your small business to new heights and a strategy to get you there.
But wait a minute - are your employees in on your strategy? If they don't know where you are headed, you'd better hit the brakes and bring them up to speed before they get left behind.
Developing strategy can be very exciting for a business owner. That's part of the fun of owning a business. However, you need to keep in mind that you won't execute your strategy alone.
To achieve your goals, you'll need to rely on the dedication and skills of your employees. Most employees are more than willing to help you execute your strategy as long as you are willing to include them in the process. At a minimum, you should plan to clearly communicate your goals and strategy to the employees before your plan is implemented.
Break It Down
When you communicate a business strategy to your staff, you need to help them see how they fit into the big picture. They want to have a general idea what the big picture looks like, but more importantly they want to understand how it will impact them. Will your new strategy affect their role in the company? Is their job still secure? What new expectations will be placed on them? These questions and many more will need to be answered before your employees can wholeheartedly commit to the strategy.
Speak Their Language
It's not uncommon for business owners to immerse themselves in the language and culture of a new strategy. The problem is that employees haven't immersed themselves in the same language and culture, and may need some time to catch up. Until they do, it's important to communicate in their language, using terms and phrases they already understand.
Benchmarks help employees contextualize the strategy and understand the timeframe for its implementation. Each person's role in executing the strategy becomes easier to swallow when the strategy is presented in a staged format with manageable "bite-sized" goals along the way. It also becomes easier to assess progress and red flag problem areas when they arise.
Once you've established strategy benchmarks, you'll need to revisit them every once in a while and communicate your progress to your employees. If you are on-schedule, your employees will want to share in your satisfaction. If you are behind schedule, your employees may be able to help you nail down the reason why and make suggestions about how to get back on track.
One last thing about communicating strategy to your employees: If at all possible, avoid using e-mail as a communication device. E-mail is fine for everyday business correspondence. But when it comes to something as important as strategy, employees appreciate the courtesy of a face to face meeting. Meetings also have the added benefit of bringing the entire team together to brainstorm ideas and coordinate between departments.
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