How well do your employees know your corporate strategy, the plan for business growth and profit?
If you picked a member of your team at random, asked that person to explain the company’s priorities, and measured their accuracy, how would they score? Similarly, how well do you think that employee understands why your corporate goals are what they are?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the standard lines about how company initiatives, strategies, and goals are shared: the business world is littered with mass emails from HR or Internal Communications departments, “town hall” meetings and training sessions, flyers in company break rooms, and similar top-down declarations.
Worse yet is when those declarations come in the form of broad anecdotes and purpose statements. How can employees hit their targets if leadership can’t clearly articulate them?
Using these ineffective communication methods makes it clear why so many company leaders express desires for change and growth, but so few actually achieve it.
I recently found a wonderful article by Harvard Business Review contributor David Lancefield that sums up best corporate communications practices. It’s something I share with my clients to contextualize my own approach. But, ultimately, it boils down to generating buy-in.
But what does buy-in mean?
Here’s a sneak peek of what that looks like for a lot of the folks I work with:
First and foremost, corporate strategies need to be comprehensive. It’s so incredibly common to become tunnel-visioned on one facet of your strategy while not fleshing out other necessary elements. Think of all the stakeholders — workers, investors, managers, etc. — and what it’ll take to earn their buy-in.
Similarly, the more leaders can personalize the strategy to each stakeholder group in your company, the better. No matter how you communicate your corporate strategy, if your audience leaves wondering what it means or how it’ll affect them, your approach was not impactful.
Next, be sure to communicate in a way that your audience wants to be communicated to. Usually, that means ditching the run-of-the-mill slide deck. The way David Lancefield puts it is to look for memorable, “imprintable moments.” In short, make your message unforgettable.
Additionally, the most effective corporate strategies lead with transparency. More often than not, honesty when communicating a corporate strategy is a virtue, even when the message is about current challenges. Not only does this enable your team to make better decisions, but it also demonstrates that they’re valued, respected, and trusted, which is tremendous for morale.
Finally, it’s essential to remember that a successful internal communications strategy is not a one-time event but an ongoing process. This means constantly repeating and iterating on key messages to ensure that they’re being heard and understood by employees. By continuously communicating and reinforcing your company’s goals and direction, businesses can help ensure everyone on the team is aligned and working towards the same objectives.
What this all boils down to is that creating vision and strategy simply isn’t enough.
Business leaders need to lead their workforce, and that means ensuring your team understands, appreciates, and buys into your corporate priorities. Often, that’s easier said than done. Luckily, there’s help. This is precisely what business transformation professionals specialize in.
So, whether you choose to work with a transformation consultant or decide to own your strategy alone, make sure you’re armed with a strong communications plan.
You deserve it.
Your team deserves it.
The health of your business might depend on it.