Workers must know "the why" behind strategies
A great business strategy is almost worthless if employees aren't informed and inspired to execute it, say the authors of a forthcoming book.
Inform and inspire to get resultsEmployers that fail to explain the "why" behind directions are "doomed to manage activity with a non-engaged talent pool with limited interest in doing something for no clear purpose", Berggren and Dalgaard say.
"When a leader shares detailed decision processes with the people on the front line, they engage," they say. "Manage activity, and you're stuck with uncaring robots that do nothing but dissatisfy your customers and waste opportunities to get ahead of the competition."
Even in environments that appear to be driven by top-down directives, such as the military, front-line people are always clearly briefed on the overall objectives and purpose of any mission, they say.
But as well as knowing "the why", employees need the right incentives to perform.
"If people feel that whatever they do makes little or no difference, it's game over - mediocre execution, at best. To get your workforce to care and act, they need to be incented to perform, consistent with desired outcomes. Failing to align individuals so they have a clear line of sight of their role and its connection to the overall strategy is a killer mistake. If you don't see how your job makes any difference or don't feel that the business cares, why should you?"
The bottom line, they say, is "if you care about what you do and get recognised for your contribution, real execution happens".
Get people "doing the right things"One of the primary levers for RoX is business alignment, the authors say. "It is about making sure that your strategy is understood, and the priority for action exists at all levels of the business. This understanding needs to map to an increasing willingness and capacity to produce results no matter where one resides within the organisation."
Up to 95 per cent of people don't know what their job is, they say. "Simply put, when people keep working hard on whatever they think is important the chances are it is not... the work needed to get the desired outcomes."
Business alignment is more than "town hall meetings, coffee talks, webinars or pep talks", the authors say. "It is about building an organisation that is accountable, transparent, agile and capable of rapid change in desired business direction. The basic pillars of alignment are designed to support the critical need to have the right talent working on the stuff that matters most. In simple terms they are effective and rapid communication of strategy, so there is clear line of sight up and down the organisation; executional transparency, so the entire organisation has the means to know who is executing what; and the enablement of collaboration, so talent awareness is optimally directed to drive execution."
Restructure around strategyManagers, the authors say, should focus on directing their team and aligning them around the overall goals that need to be achieved. "Alignment around strategy should replace the traditional alignment around hierarchy."
This means that "the distribution of direction, guidance and collaboration is all focused on getting the right things done".
When an organisation depends on strict hierarchical communication, they say, it will have more difficulty getting simple functional departments to innovate and solve customer needs across silos.
"Sure there are structural means that are needed to make sure you achieve effective functional alignment across your organisation, but it is a manager's daily responsibility to energise, motivate and excite their teams and, more importantly, each individual. In the end, your company's performance level and its ability to execute is dependent on individuals making the right daily decisions. When people care and are incented to create value for your customers and shareholders, execution happens."
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