Our organizational alignment research found that strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing companies.
It is up to company leaders to ruthlessly clarify and effectively articulate the organization’s business strategy – where the company is going, why that direction is important and the specific path to get there. A strategy that has been effectively communicated is one that is understood, believable and actionable throughout the organization.
We have spent two decades working with leaders who understand the importance of transferring the business strategy from the C-suite to the shop floor. We have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly and have come to recognize how so many leaders unintentionally do a poor job communicating and cascading their business priorities through their organization. Here are five strategic communication tips on how to avoid the pitfalls of miscommunicating your strategy.
- Do Not Overcomplicate
This is not the time to impress with high-flying vocabulary and complex sentences. The simpler and more authentic, the better. To rally the troops, your strategy should be uncomplicated and easy to grasp. It should focus only on the critical few things that matter most. Look at Google’s corporate mission—“to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Could it be any more straightforward?
- Do Not Dictate
The top-down approach does not work very well in today’s flatter and faster organizations. To be broadly understood and accepted, your business strategy should be created collaboratively, not in the executive ivory tower. Include employees from different levels and different functions within the company to get their input and build their sense of ownership. When they are involved in the process, they will become advocates and help cascade the message throughout the organization.
- Do Not Assume Once is Enough When Communicating
Sure, you may have planned a company-wide celebratory unveiling of the strategy. But you can’t just make the grand announcement and then walk away. The message needs to be communicated multiple ways and reinforced, discussed and debated over time. Think discussion, not communication, if you want to increase commitment levels.
- Do Not Ignore More Up-to-Date Communication Tools
Use all means possible to reach your employees. This should go way beyond email. Why not use social media periodically and in attention-grabbing ways? Or use online simulations and contests to get the word out and receive feedback.
- Do Not Hold Back Resources
Until your business strategy is effectively understood and believed throughout the organization, your chances of successful strategy execution are poor. Investing in your communication campaign is important. This is not the place to save money. Invest sufficient funds to see that employees get it. Only then can they do what you want them to and run full speed ahead.