Can a Clear Strategy Really Motivate the Performance of Employees?

After helping a CEO and his management team develop their strategy for the new year, we worked with the CEO to hold a number of town halls to outline the strategy to his organization.  After one of the town halls, a team member stopped me and enthusiastically said, “I finally get it!” This team member suddenly made the connection between his job and the organization’s objectives. By expertly fulfilling his role, he is, in essence, increasing corporate revenue by maintaining the company’s health care facility at such a high standard as to make it a patient’s option of choice.

This employee’s enlightened realization, followed by his renewed and enthusiastic performance, reminded me of Steve Jobs’ expressed desire to make a meaningful contribution – “I want to put a ding in the universe”. Such moments where strategy is clearly aligned with individual roles are not always apparent in our daily working experience but, nonetheless, are the essence of an organization’s ultimate success.

In a recent blog, my business partner described the difference between manager and leader roles in driving strategy and performance. Managers structure their teams to be organized and drive results; leaders, on the other hand, have an implicit higher-level calling to inspire and motivate. Leaders are respected for their ability to bring the best out of the people around them, motivating individuals and teams to deliver strategic results.  Those who tie together and align corporate vision and individual job responsibility are the ones who have high performing teams – motivated, engaged and consistently producing meaningful results.

So, how could you be better at motivating your employees for your business’ success?  Here are 5 core skills that will help you: 

  1. Create a Clear Strategy – Developing a strategy, and revisiting it regularly, is critical for any business.  How are you going to get where you want to go if you don’t know where you are going? Take the time to develop a strategy with your management team at least annually and review progress towards its accomplishment regularly. 
  2. Communicate To Connect – Concrete, timely and sincere communication delivered by senior leadership that connects the relevance of employees’ jobs to the accomplishment of the organization’s goals. The result should be a heightened appreciation of their vital role in the organization and increased performance. 
  3. Empower – Motivated team members are those who are empowered to make decisions within their scope of responsibility; motivated employees are given discretion on how to best leverage their expertise and experience in creatively executing their roles and related tasks.  Success happens when motivated employees understand the value that each of their efforts adds to achieving innovative, differentiated strategic objectives.
  4. Clear the Decks – Harvard professor Teresa Amabile’s research shows that on days when workers have the sense they are making headway – even incremental headway – in their jobs, or when they receive support that helps them overcome obstacles, their emotions are most positive and their drive to succeed is at its peak.  The message for leaders: remove barriers that your employees cannot and provide sufficient air cover to ensure work progress. 
  5. Recognize – The bottom line here is leadership’s continued recognition (organizational, team, individual) of superior job performance that results, directly or indirectly, in the realization of strategic objectives.  While monetary recognition aligned with performance is a basic motivator, numerous studies prove that non-monetary recognition (e.g. expanded roles, verbal appreciation, non-monetary awards, etc.) is the more effective motivator.

What are you doing to motivate strategically-aligned performance? 

Prism Partners International can facilitate the development of your strategy and deliver resulting action plans that will motivate your employees to superior performance and results. Through our practical operational experience and innovative assessments and analytics, we can focus and align management’s actions and employee performance to achieve improved profitability.

Please contact us to learn how we can help.  We invite you sign-up for our weekly blog posts at that  We also ask that you join our LinkedIn group, Strategic Human Capital Alignment Forum, Like Us on Facebook (Prism Partners International) and Follow Us on Twitter (@PrismPartners).