It’s the first month of a new year and your team has come back with a renewed sense of purpose, motivation and dedication to their job. As their leader, you have come back with a whole year ahead to make more of an impact than ever before. You spent hours and hours developing a great strategy for growing your business in the late days of 2017 and are ready to hit the ground running and making it happen. But there is one problem, you might have developed the strategy but it’s your employees that will execute it. Your real role from now on is to guide and foster that strategy execution and for most businesses, that’s actually a real challenge.
In 2013 PwC conducted a study of nearly 700 executives across a wide range of industries, assessing how effective their top leaders were at strategy and execution. The study found that just 18% of top leaders were considered to excel at either strategy or execution and only 6% were considered to be very effective at both strategy and execution.
This linkage between strategy and execution is clearly misunderstood by most business leaders, likely leading to enormous productivity loss and a lack of robust business growth. So right now, we would like you to think about it. How do you address this in your organization?
In truth, an execution plan is just as important as the overall strategy itself but if you find yourself stuck without a strategy or a plan to execute it, we have a few things that can help you to get back on track.
Discuss strategy and encourage input from the entire team
This doesn’t mean a roundtable with the team, this can be done through interviews, employee surveys and team meetings. You will find you have both visionaries (those who excel at big picture thinking, dreaming new direction and generating ideas) and operators (those who see their day-to-day task list and little beyond that) and you will be able to understand who fits in which category. You never know what ideas they may have or insight they can share, making this an important part of strategic planning. This entire process is a tiny step along the employee engagement pathway and by asking them to think about the future of the organization, they are starting to feel like they contribute to something bigger, which makes the next step easier.
Share and communicate the strategy
When you have developed a strategy, it’s time to communicate this with the team. Ensure everyone is aware of it, understands it and has an appreciation for their work’s role in the big picture and leading the business to success. This is about creating accountability. If someone is involved in front line customer service and your strategy involves differentiating yourself through increased customer-led product customisation, ensure they understand that each interaction with a customer needs to reflect this. If increased customer-led product customization means more logistics work for the manufacturing team, ensure they understand that the change in operations means the organization can deliver a better product. Get everyone on the same page, working for the same thing and they’ll be more inclined to work harder and smarter.
Review the strategy from the bottom up
Leaders often will review the strategy from the top. Assessing it objectively; what has been accomplished, what hasn’t, what needs to change? By pairing this with a bottom up review, you get better insight into what problems, challenges or successes front-line operations are facing day-to-day. By reviewing each team member’s progress in working towards executing the strategy, you are promoting accountability and giving yourself a better evaluation perspective on the overall progress.
Think about how those three things can be done more in your business. How can you drive strategy execution when you’re at the top and aren’t in control of the day-to-day execution? We promise that if you make a conscious effort to do those three things this year, your 2018 strategy will take you further than any other has before.