It’s surprising just how many employees carry out their daily work without really knowing what the ultimate goal is. Yet knowing the direction we’re going in and being able to prioritise our own work according to the grand plan is key to personal productivity and vital to business performance. Concise articulation of the vision and strategy, and clear communication and reinforcement are essential.
Here are the three factors:
1. Before strategy, you need a purpose and a vision
To fully sign up to the ‘what and how’ we firstly need to know ‘why’. The strategy may clarify what we need to do and how to achieve it, but without knowing why we’re spending 8+ hours of each day on our role, we can’t all fully be in tune.
Purpose and vision are the priorities – what the company exists to do, and what its biggest ambitions are. This is true of an organisation with thousands of people as much as for a company of two. Having the ‘why’ enables us to fix our eye on the ultimate goal ahead yet remain flexible about how we’re going to get there. Strategy will change as we move through the plan in accordance with market forces, internal changes and other variables, but the ultimate vision will hold fast.
Jim Collins and Jerry Porras (authors and strategy experts) work with organisations to help them create their bigger picture. They have what they call a Vision Framework that includes:a set of Core Values and a Core Purpose, such as Walt Disney’s ‘To make people happy’. Another essential element is a 25- year BHAG (Big Hairy Ambitious Goal) e.g. Teaching Company’s ‘Create and bring forth the best collegiate and high school programmes that have ever been invented’.
With this vision framework in place, then is the time to elucidate the strategic priorities and objectives.
2. Divisions, departments, teams and individuals all need to be in alignment
The vision framework and strategy need to be filtered through all of the levels of the organisation and the best way to do that is to engage employees in their relevant ‘strategy chart’. A division needs to create its own divisional chart, each department needs do theirs, and so on through to every team at every level.
The process of creating these charts helps teams align to the company direction and build and depict their own team strategy and personal objectives step-by-step, with the involvement and buy-in of all the team members.
It can all be articulated in a one-page document with horizontal layers: the organisation’s vision framework at the top as the guide, then the team’s three to five key priority strategies (the ‘what’), followed by the objectives or initiatives (‘how’ to ensure the strategic priorities are carried out), and finally the measures for tracking targets and progress. These layers can be adapted and changed as necessary, and either used to turn an existing hefty strategy document into an easily understood pictogram or to start strategy from scratch.
From a team chart can evolve individual team members’ annual development and objective-setting discussions.
3. Purpose, vision and strategy need to be communicated, lived and breathed continuously throughout the organisation
It’s important to view this piece of work not as a one-off project but as a way of life within the organisation. The organisation’s vision framework and strategy should be imbued throughout the working day in as many ways as possible. Town Halls and employee conferences have to feature and reinforce them, project or meeting agendas need them imprinted at the top, and one-to-one development discussions should reference them.
In short, employees need to see, hear and work under the umbrella of the bigger picture every day and senior managers need to walk and talk them in everything they do, so that every decision is made in recognition of these guiding principles and all development and objective-setting discussions include them as their foundation.
Penelope Newton-Hurley is a Communication Troubleshooter,Consultant, Trainer and Mediator
The Communication Troubleshooter helps drive engagement and
performance through Emotional Intelligence and
Resolution-based CommPassion© Communication techniques.
Find out more at www.thecommtroubleshooter.co.uk
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