Excellence in strategy execution is the number one challenge facing corporate leaders.
1 Harvard Business Review, 03/15
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When it comes to sustainable strategy execution, employee engagement is insufficient, emotional commitment is what is needed.
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You are asking employees to voluntarily go on an arduous journey to execute company strategy. If they aren’t emotionally committed, how durable do you think they will be when they encounter challenges and how long do you think they’ll last when the fog of conflicting priorities arises?
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There are 6 drivers to achieving strategy execution. The more of these drivers that you can establish, the more successful your strategy execution effort will be.
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1. Your company must offer a meaningful company vision in terms that employees can emotionally commit to.
The primary way to achieve this buy-in process is to present the vision in terms that employees can understand and then have meaningful dialogue about what the vision means to the employee. Employees want and need to personalize the company’s vision if they are to be committed to the strategy.
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2. Employees must have trust that their peers in other functional areas will deliver on promises made to them and to customers.
Horizontal organizational alignment and accountability needs to be visible and felt at every level. Companies that excel at strategy execution spend as much time on ensuring horizontal collaboration as they do on top-down communication.
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3. Employees must gain a line-of-sight to both the customer and the way the vision is realized.
Executives can paint a ‘big picture’ of how the strategy is going to help achieve the company’s vision, but in order to garner emotional commitment among employees, the employees themselves need help developing a personal line-of-sight to customers and the company’s vision.
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4. Employees must be empowered to make fact-based decisions in order to adjust the strategy to changes in the market.
Appropriate deviation from the original strategy is how high performing companies execute strategy. Organizational agility can only be trusted and achieved when employees think and act like owners of the business. To achieve this level of trust, the company needs to build an appropriate level of business acumen across the organization.
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5. Informal leaders must be a welcomed part of the strategy execution plan.
If you want emotionally committed employees, expect passionate input when thinking through how to translate strategy into operational terms.
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6. In addition to investing in processes and tools to ensure effective, transparent communication, be sure to identify and train informal leaders that front-line employees respect.
This will take more time and training on your part, but these trained informal leaders will resolve questions before they become problems.
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Research shows that the emotional commitment of a company’s employees are a primary factor in determining whether that company will successfully execute strategy, or find themselves among the 70% of companies who fail to.
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In summary, there are 6 drivers to achieving employee commitment. The more of these drivers that you can establish, the more successful your strategy execution effort will be.
Offer a meaningful company vision in terms that employees can emotionally commit to.
Hold people accountable, so employees can trust that peers in other functional areas will deliver on promises made to them and to customers.
Help employees to see how the vision can be realized, and to gain a line-of-sight to the customer.
Reinforce a fact-based culture so that employees can make fact-based decisions in order to adjust the strategy to changes in the market.
Welcome informal leaders as part of the strategy execution planning process.
Identify and train informal leaders that front-line employees respect. Strategy execution goes faster when informal leaders are thoughtfully involved.
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