Have you ever been at work and overheard (or been directly asked), “Why are we doing this project?” or “Why did we stop focusing on this activity?” These seem like innocent questions, but as a strategy manager or executive leader, you might start to worry. The answers are in your strategic plan, and whether it was just rolled out last week or is in your plan from three years ago, your team should be using it as a resource for these kinds of questions—not be operating in the dark.
If this situation sounds familiar, it’s time to take a step back and look at whether everyone understands your strategic plan. Below are three common challenges associated with getting teams to understand and adopt your strategy, as well as ideas on how to overcome them.
Challenge 1: No Interaction With The Business Strategy
If you polled everyone in your company, how many people could name the key themes or priorities in your strategic plan without going to the intranet? If the answer is just a few, you may not be doing enough to make employees aware of it.
It’s common for teams to learn about a strategic plan via an orientation session or executive memo, which likely happens only once a year or quarter. Most employees don’t interact with the strategy or have any knowledge of it beyond this communication, making it easy to forget.
Here are some simple ways to increase team interaction with the strategy:
- Print your five strategic plan themes on business cards. Ask people to carry it with them—this is called a “pocket strategy.”
- Dedicate internal communications to themes and initiatives. For example, post your five themes in the break room, share success stories in meetings, and shower attention on individuals and projects that represent key areas of the strategic plan.
- Draw a strategy map and post it on the intranet and office walls (perhaps in the shape of a house or other recognizable, catchy graphic). A visual can help people remember different elements of your plan.
If you’re looking for more ways to effectively communicate your strategic plan, take a look at this article.
Challenge 2: No Connection To The Business Strategy
Employees may be interacting with strategic initiatives every day, but that doesn’t mean they understand how their role connects to the strategy itself. If team members struggle to make an association between their daily work and the five-year direction of the organization, they won’t understand or remember much of the strategic plan.
Download Now: The All-Inclusive Management Reporting Guide
These tips can help you connect employees to the strategy:
- Using the business cards from your pocket strategy above, ask teams and departments to circle the themes they contribute to most and write how they contribute. Share these cards in internal meetings.
- Have your executive leaders highlight the contributions of one team or department per month, giving shoutouts to work that is directly supporting the strategy.
- Link your work plans and budget to the strategy. This will connect all of your department activities to the strategic plan. (This isn’t easy, but here’s an article that can help.)
Internal reports can also help connect teams to strategy. The All-Inclusive Management Reporting Guide will show you how.
Challenge 3: No Link Between Current Activities And Future Strategy
Strategies are typically visions five years into the future of an organization. Should you wait until the end of those five years to reevaluate your strategy? Obviously not, but some organizations end up in this boat purely by lack of foresight. If you’re not consistently linking what your organization does currently with your long-term vision of the future, it will weaken the relevance of your strategic plan.
Here are some quick fixes to link current activities with future strategies:
- Include KPIs and targets in your strategy. Start with a five-year target, then work backward to create KPIs for each year (including the current one), sharing metrics and results along the way.
- Link projects to your strategy. For example, when you are investing in modernizing your infrastructure, explain how recent innovations connect to the strategy.
- Meet regularly and share progress across the organization.
- Organize your strategy with software and share progress results in real time.
At ClearPoint, we often see organizations struggle with strategy execution because employees are unfamiliar with or disconnected from the strategy. Ensuring your team understands and is on board with your strategy is just as important as the process of developing it. Keep in mind that strategic planning software can really help—contact us if you want to learn more about it.