Communicating the Strategy to the Organization

This article is the eighth of an eight-part series to help you break through traditional growth barriers.  Any one of these eight lessons, applied with confidence and persistence, can make a difference.  Collectively, they can drive significant outcomes.   Are you ready to begin a journey of Breakthrough Growth?

Getting Everyone On Board with a Communication Plan

If you’ve been following this series, you now have some ideas about how to implement and manage your strategic growth initiatives.  That’s great!  When you have chosen your initiatives, determined what projects are needed to implement them, worked out resource needs and allocated them, set up a way to monitor your progress…don’t forget about the communication plan.  Every action plan needs a communication plan that describes who, what, when, how, and by whom information will be shared.  You and the rest of the executive team may now have a shared vision and direction, but you need to make sure that everyone in the organization or related to it also sees that vision and understands his or her role in getting the company there.

Communicate What Needs to Change

For people to do what you need them to do, they must first understand the expectations.  Many companies do the “dog and pony” show.  They call everyone into a room to share the macro plan with much pomp and circumstance.  Then everyone goes back to their desk.  When they get there, what is on the desk?  The same things that were there when they left to go to the meeting.  So what do they work on?  The same things they always have.

For that to change, people need to know more than just the strategy.  They need to know what they are expected to do to make a difference and move the company forward.  Don’t expect them to figure it out on their own.

Identify What Each Group Needs to Know

To build the communication plan, identify the groups that need to understand all or part of the plan.  That usually includes the management team, employees, the Board, suppliers, customers, stock analyst or other stakeholders.  What needs to be communicated varies greatly by audience.  Consider what each audience needs to know to contribute to the plans goals and what support they need to do the job.  When considering what communication needs to occur, remember this is not a “one and done” challenge.  Good communication is clear, frequent and consistent.  Be sure to set the plan in a manner that dissuades individual agendas or bias from having an opportunity to influence direction.

Determine When Each Group Needs to Know

When each group needs to know may vary as well.  Some need to know right away.  The management group needs to be prepared to implement in their own organization and answer questions.  Other groups, like bankers, may not need to know until the financial statements begin to see impact from the plan.  Each case is different and you need to think it through based on your company’s culture and circumstances.

The “when” of communication may be the first date of discussion but also include how frequently a group needs to be updated.

Plan How to Communicate

The “how” of communication might vary so that the message is reinforced in different ways for different types of people.  Some people are auditory learners, some like rote methods of communication.  Some sessions might be serious and others fun.  The key to being sure any message is internalized is repetition.

In some cases, the communication occurs in existing forums, like manager meetings. Sometimes the communication is a special event.  How communication is to occur may have a direct impact on when it happens.  If the Board needs to know first, and they will be told at the next Board meting, then other communication may have to be pushed out.

Who is Responsible?

Finally, don’t forget to assign who is responsible for the communication so accountability is clear.

Your Growth Journey

Most companies can write strategic plans but few deliver the results.  To achieve breakthrough growth you will need more than a plan.  You will need a constant and relentless drum beat that signals commitment to the plan and the people who are implementing it.  Be sure everyone knows what is expected of them, use tools to track progress, and keep everyone on the same page and free of distractions.

Have a great growth journey!

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