Success in the business world is always multifactorial. There’s no one secret ingredient that can turn a start-up into a business giant overnight. However, there are certain elements all thought leaders have to take into consideration if they want their company to thrive, and having a clearly defined business strategy is definitely one of them. Without a strategy, a business is simply drifting into the unknown, and relying on luck should never be an option.
If you’ve set up an effective strategy for your company, you’re already on the right path. Now all it takes to put your vision into action is to make sure everyone else in the company is on the same page with you. Unfortunately, that’s where things tend to get tricky and challenges start to arise. A lot of companies fail to get their employees on board and make them understand what their strategy is all about. When things get lost in translation and employees don’t know exactly where they’re going, the future of the entire company is at risk.
What stands in the way of employee alignment?
If you want to fix a problem effectively and make sure it never happens again, you have to find the root cause. So, you must ask yourself what causes misalignment in the first place. Why do so many employees fail to understand your business strategy or only have a very superficial understanding of it, leading to low engagement? Here are some of the most common reasons that could explain this phenomenon:
- Lack of consistency – talking about company’s goals should be a constant action, not something that comes up every now and then and you only mention briefly when time allows. It should be an endeavour that requires continuous attention.
- Poor communication – when you communicate your vision to your employees, make sure you find the right words to convey the message properly, so employees don’t have to guess what you’re trying to say.
- Different interpretations – employees will take the information they receive and pass it through their own perceptual filter, and that can result in different interpretations.
- Different contexts – absorbing the information in one context (e.g., a boarding room) and putting it into practice in a different context can result challenging due to the fact that people tend to forget concepts when the environment changes.
The secrets to successful employee alignment
If you want to be a true thought leader, you have to find innovative solutions to the challenges your company faces. Thought leaders are known for their creativity, ingenuity and originality, as well as for investing a lot of time and effort in gathering valuable insight to help lead companies in the right direction. Some of the principles used by thought leaders to attract a supportive following can be employed to improve employee alignment.
If you’re wondering what methods work best for aligning employees with your company’s strategy, here are a few ideas that can help you in this respect.
Make employees part of the process
Creating a strategy and then sharing it with the rest of the world might not be the most effective way to get people to follow you or understand what your intentions are. Instead, you can try to get employees on board by involving them in the process of developing the strategy. Of course, if you’re a larger company with a lot of employees, you can’t all sit down at the same table to draft the strategy. But what you could do is invite key members of your staff to work on the strategy with you, so they can gain a better understanding of where the company is headed.
Connect on a personal level
Making sure employees understand the vision only solves part of the problem. You also want them to work towards achieving the same goal, and that can only happen if they’re truly motivated. When team members view tasks as something external that they have to do in order to achieve someone else’s vision, motivation levels can decrease with time. But when this vision is linked to their personal expectations and, they’ll find the drive and motivation to make things happen.
Make small steps matter
Putting a strategy into practice requires collective effort. But what happens when employees with smaller tasks can’t see how their effort contributes to the overall goal? They’ll eventually forget about the company’s mission and think their role is redundant. To avoid this from happening, you have to let every employee know about the part they play in the company’s success and how their work influences the process. Make them understand that their contribution is valuable, no matter how big or small, and that will keep them connected to the company’s vision.
Play the part
Simply talking about your company’s strategy won’t suffice if you want to lead employees in the same direction. Learning the theory is one thing, and putting it into practice is another. That’s why it’s so important to give your team members the chance to practice what you preach through role-playing sessions. During these workshops, employees will have the possibility to go over important concepts and imagine how they’re going to translate into reality. Not only will this clarify certain aspects that might not have been properly explained, but it will also help your staff internalize concepts and principles that they will later use in their day-to-day activity.
Look into the future
Once your employees understand the company’s strategy and are actively involved in it, you’ll want to keep them engaged in the long-run. That’s why discussing business goals and objectives should become a regular endeavour. Your employees should be focused on the present, but also have their eyes on the future. Your role is to help them envision what the future will look like for them and the company once these goals are achieved, so they can maintain the same level of involvement over time.