Communicating Your Strategic Plan with Employees
By Robert W. Bradford
It's critically important that employees understand your strategy. Employees who understand your strategy will be able to make better day-to-day decisions that will support your vision. But, while most of us understand this — at least intellectually — we often have difficulty effectively communicating our strategies to people outside of the strategic planning team. This may be especially difficult if you feel that parts of your strategy are sensitive and should not be shared with people outside of your management team. In addition, it may be undesirable to load employees with the task of thoroughly understanding all of your strategic planning documents when many employees only touch on one small operational area. How can we reconcile these difficulties?
First, you should probably have a separate vehicle for communicating your strategy. Handing out photocopies of your strategic planning binder will not achieve the effect you desire. Definitely prepare a separate document for communicating your strategy to employees. Secondly, you want to use something short and to-the-point, since many employees won't want to spend a lot of time reading about your vision. Our clients have found that a one-sheet summary combined with a short (15-30 minute) informational meeting with managers is most effective vehicle for communicating the outcome of your strategic planning meetings. Thirdly, you should "sanitize" your communication document. This isn't as hard as it sounds — you simply need to look at everything you might share with employees and ask "will it hurt us if other people know this?" A very good example of something that's unlikely to hurt you is sharing your view of your company's strategic competencies — if they are real.
Here are a few additional tips that will help you communicate your strategy more effectively:
In our experience, companies that share their strategy with their employees get far greater alignment with their vision. This makes implementation much easier, and helps to give your vision a life of its own. If you want to get all of your employees — and not just your planning team — helping to move your vision forward, try communicating your strategy with them this week!
Robert Bradford is President of Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc.
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