Odds are, you don’t know your company’s strategy. You think you do, so tell me. I’ll wait.
Uh oh! How was that phrased? It’s on the tip of your tongue. And you probably just set it, too, just last week. It’s ok. We all do it. We try not to, but we do anyway. We know it’s important to know, but we get caught up in the day to day and the words and phrasing get foggy.
Why you don’t know what your company’s strategy is.
Your strategy is hidden. Strategy is really important, yet it’s so easy to forget it, let it retire in a binder or on a document squirreled away on the company’s shared drive. If it’s not visible, it’s not going to be top of mind.
Conditions change but we don’t adjust the strategy. We assume the things we’re doing advance the strategy. We respond with agility to changes with what our customers are telling us, changes in competitive pressure, and changes within the team. But what’s that mean for your strategy? The strategy…what exactly did we say it was anyway?
Your daily tasks don’t always sync to strategy. Everyday in the workplace, we do things to keep the wheels running, or someone asked us to do something, or we’re in the habit of doing them. But how do all of these relate to the strategy of the business? It’s easy to assume that they do, but how do you know?
Why knowing the strategy matters.
So maybe there are lots of reasons that knowing the company strategy is difficult to pull off. So what? Don’t businesses often do just fine without everyone knowing the strategies at all times?
Being transparent and clear to all of your employees on what your strategy consists of is key to both your employees’ engagement and company’s success. A recent study by author and consultant William Schiemann showed that only 14% of the organizations he polled say that their employees have a good understanding of their company’s strategy and direction.
Employees who know their companies’ strategies have a powerful advantage over those who don’t. They are able to:
- Prioritize more effectively.
- Make greater contributions to their company’s success.
- Be viewed by leaders as “big picture” thinkers.
Let’s take a look inward and see from these alignment factors, how many does your company identify with?
Clarity and alignment are critical.
As you can see, it is MUCH BETTER to get everyone aligned. Here are some more reasons.
You can be efficient AND effective. Being fast is a good thing, isn’t it? What if you are speeding down a highway taking you further and further away from your originally intended destination? That’s efficient, but not effective. Bummer. Well-placed actions beat haphazard speed every time.
You can align the whole team. When your team knows their part and how they can help each other, you can succeed. It’s a lot harder to win when rules and goals are ad hoc. Imagine a football team in which none of the players know what play they are running. Might be a little chaotic, right?
Quickly notice when you need to change direction. Actions divorced from strategy are unlikely to be revisited when conditions change. When everyone knows the strategy and everyone knows how the work they are doing pushes that strategy forward, it’s a lot easier to see when both the strategy and the work the team is doing needs to adjust. If you want to be purposely agile instead of aimlessly flexible, you know your strategy.
People feel more connected when everyone is aligned and informed about strategy. Organizations are business ecosystems that depend on People Ecosystems. In order to drive business performance, its people has to connect with each other to share ideas, solve problems, and innovate. Employees place value where they feel connected and a sense of community; with this environment they feel energized to work, with higher levels of commitment and personal ownership around their work.
People feel more engaged when everyone is aligned and informed about strategy. Increasing the level of engagement inside the organization causes powerful change; it further promotes the sense of community with continuous feedback and recognition. Employees should develop trust with each other and their management in order to promote open communication.
Informed people can see the bigger picture.
As we saw earlier, not many people are informed of their company strategy. Informed people can see the bigger picture–they understand context and go into their work with confidence in their decisions. By being informed of how their work contributes to larger business activities, employees will take more ownership towards over their work and find their meaning and purpose within the community. Part of building a more informed and unified culture is to build stronger trust. Information goes both ways. Employees should share with their managers on how they view the brand, as well.
Fixing the strategy awareness and alignment problem.
This is part 1 of a series of posts on strategy execution. Stay tuned for the next post on the ways you can solve this common problem of strategy forgetfulness simply and easily without sacrificing your business’ speed and agility.