Thursday, December 11, 2014

THE ART OF ENGAGEMENT: or how to get employees on the same page

A lot of business owners spend a great deal of time and effort  formulating strategies to make their business grow.  Then they pass on their ideas to staff who are often befuddled and the strategies never seem to achieve their goals.  In fact Jim Haudan tells us that 75% of strategic plans fail to be executed.

When one goes through a new strategy process, one goes down a lot of deadends, rejects a lot of options, hears other opinions and finally comes to some sort of strategy.  The strategy is based on all the efforts made by that one person.  A one way presentation such as a Power Point will not necessarily lead everyone else to the same conclusion.

The employees at the bottom who actually execute the strategy decided by others often feel overworked, confused, not aware of the big picture and distrustful of higher staff motivations.  Often they have had a new series of strategies imposed on them without taking away previous instructions.  The trick is to tap into something that the people really connect with.

In large companies many employees don't see a personal connection to the strategies.  Most workers want to be part of something big, want to feel a sense of belonging, want to make things better and want to feel their contribution can make a difference.  Too often they get disillusioned.

Jim Haudan, the author believes one of the best ways to communicate is with stories, particularly visual stories.  This can be a tool when the employees participate so that they can see better how they fit into what needs to be done.  They need to see the bigger picture including market trends and what the competition is up to. They need to trust their managers and their leaders.

Wall Street analysts are learning to appreciate not just a strategy that has been announced to them, but  if the skill levels of the employees are able to execute.  That means the leaders have to think out how to develop the skills needed for a new strategy and to really motivate staff to acquire the skills.

Change is frightening to many employees.  Their leaders need to convey the attitude that change is not an indictment of past performance.  What was done in the past worked, but it won't be enough for the future.  When this is understood everyone can work together to make a better future.  Leaders and managers will inevitably be surprised that the front line workers want to and can contribute ideas to make their strategies work better.

One quote from author, Jim Haudan "Without understanding company strategy an employee can't take responsibility.  People who do understand can't avoid it."

There are many steps to be taken to integrate the strategies with the execution.  We can all learn from Jim's experience and insight.  They started at the strategic planning end of things and found out there was nothing automatic about execution.  As they examined why their own strategies did not connect they learned.  In a very real way they are proving that the learning process is critical to acceptance of any strategy.

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