Monday, November 28, 2011

Execution TRUMPS Strategy: 5 Ways to Engage Your Employees

The one thing that has stood out in my mind this year is strategic execution. We have had several clients this past year struggle in the area of strategic execution. Why do most strategies fail? EXECUTION!

The story goes something like this:

Client: "Our strategy isn't working"
ICC: "Really, why do you say that?"
Client: "We are not reaching our goals and no one knows what our mission statement is"
ICC: "How did you communicate the new strategy to your employees?"
Client: "We emailed them our strategic plan via email. It was 27 pages long"
ICC: "I am shocked, it isn't working"

If I don't know anything else, I do know this: Strategic Execution takes Engaged Employees

Employees want to engage for these reasons:
1) They want to be a part of something bigger than themselves
2) They want to feel a sense of belonging
3) They want to go on a meaningful journey and want to know that their contributions make a significant impact.

Those three reasons really speak to being engaged to an organizational strategy...if the strategy is communicated properly. Strategy is definitely big and is a journey.

Don't get me wrong the "what" part of the strategy is not a consensus process. Strategic development does need to come from the top down. It's the "how" part (strategic execution) that needs employee engagement.

Here are some ways to engage employees around strategy:

1) Create a shared meaning, tell a compelling story. Discuss why the strategy is changing and what the before and after will look like and WHY it's important to the success of the organization. Leaders must engage their managers and managers must engage their front line workers.

2) Cultivate aligned behaviors. Make sure the culture is CREATED based on behaviors that drive desired performance.

3) No more silos. Strategy is hard to execute in a vacuum. Make sure all functions, departments are on board and working together.

4) Align goals and objectives making sure all understand how they contribute to the overall organizational goals.

5) Give status reports with mentions, shout outs, atta-boys and girls to keep the momentum going. Recognition is king to keep employees motivated and moving in the right direction.

What are your strategic execution war stories, what has worked? What have you learned?

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