Generally, Executive Management has a company strategy for the organization they are managing…or at least we hope they do! However, issues arise when that company strategy needs to be disseminated throughout the organization for all to understand and drive forward.
One of the biggest issues that Executive Management encounters when developing a company strategy is not focusing enough on its communication to the organization, and, more importantly, relating it to the work that each department, function or, even, the individual plays in achieving that strategy.
For example, let's look at the retail food industry, as this is very tangible to all of us. Executive Management has developed a company strategy to grow sales through greater market penetration in new locations, and a better customer experience through enhanced customer service, where the customer is ‘king’ and ‘queen’. It sounds like a sound company strategy. So, execution begins with new store openings, refurbishment of many current locations, new menu items to appeal to various customers, etc. They are spending a lot of money to execute this strategy!
As a customer, you are intrigued and give a recently refurbished location a shot. You are first impressed with the facility – it looks great – and then the menu – you are struggling with what to order, as a number of choices look good.
Then you go to place your order, and we now see where the disconnect begins. You are not greeted when you get to the counter; the employee is not at all interested in making you feel welcome – there is little eye contact or basic pleasantries. The order is placed and not surprisingly, it's wrong when it arrives. You ask for it to be rectified and you are treated as if you are completely putting them out of their way. Overall, the customer service is a mess. No one has communicated to the location managers or employees that customer service is a key strategy for the organization – this alone will make the company strategy successful and must be executed by every customer-facing employee.
The problem above is not uncommon. Often we hear of great strategies by large organizations that sound fantastic. These are accompanied by strong marketing campaigns that impress and intrigue us. However, all the actual steps to achieve that strategy is not communicated to the employee that matters most...the one that is interfacing with the customer. So all this effort and expense is wasted.
So, what are the five things management can do to prevent these issues from occurring?
- After the company strategy is developed, develop a plan for communication of the strategy throughout the organization.
- Executive Management should then communicate the strategy to all employees and then reinforce that strategy – in very tangible terms throughout the organization, at every level – through the respective management teams.
- Create a team to monitor progress on the communication plan for the strategy.
- Develop a means to receive feedback on the strategy and its communication to the organization. There is nothing better than the insight that can be obtained from those that have to execute on that strategy.
- Reinforce the company strategy frequently throughout the year – the more that you say it, the more people will get it!
Communication, and the support needed to communicate effectively, is critical to the success of any strategy. At Prism Partners International, we take the time to understand the Strategy and Culture of an organization from Executive Management. We assess how the Strategy and Culture are communicated and are understood by all, and where there may be disconnect. We use this information as the foundation of our human capital model to ensure that Strategy and Culture are properly understood and embedded in an organization, and Roles and Competencies are aligned with this Strategy and Culture.