In our recent blogs, we’ve looked in some detail at how organisations can create a successful strategy. We’ve covered key topics such as the definition of purpose, vision and values, the importance of a strategic management framework such as the balanced scorecard and the role of reporting.
Now, let’s turn our attention to the communication phase. Once your hard work has been signed off and agreed by all stakeholders, how do you successfully communicate your strategy?
Accountability is key to strategic success. With this in mind, be sure to allocate your strategic objectives, measures and tasks to individuals within your organisation, rather than departments.
Plan your communications rollout
It’s all too easy to focus perfectly on strategy creation, and then fail at the communication rollout stage! Every individual in your organisation needs to know:
a) what you are trying to achieve
b) what their role is, and;
c) how their delivery performance against defined objectives will be measured (including details of performance-related pay).
The art of communicating strategy effectively lies in providing communications in a timely fashion across a range of appropriate channels.
A good starting point is to let your employees and stakeholders know that the business strategy is in development at an early stage, and explain that planned communications will be delivered throughout in a variety of ways.
This ensures that people are kept up to date and engaged throughout, and in a manner that suits their individual learning style and preferences. For example, field-based operational workers may not read email newsletters, but they may find a face-to-face team briefing more useful, with the chance to ask questions as part of a daily huddle.
Define your channels
There are plenty of communications channels. For example:
a) Online methods – your company intranet, email newsletters and bulletins, internal corporate social media accounts, digital TV screens, CEO blogs, presentations etc.
b) Internal newsletters, wall-boards, kick-off meetings delivered in a cascade process, scheduled quarterly reviews, individual 1:1s, lunch-time feedback sessions or ‘town halls’ where employees can ask questions, and larger corporate events such as staff conferences, where a solid half day can be devoted to the new strategy and include various breakout and focus sessions.
Identify your audience
Each business will have different audiences who need different messages. For example, there will be senior managers, junior managers, employees, stakeholders, partners and so forth. Each will have different degrees of interest and involvement, so target their messages accordingly.
Think about your content
Use the support of your internal communications resource to craft key messages that can be shared across all employee groups. The key is to create engaging content that is framed around key messages, with a prepared FAQ to share and add to as new questions arise. Create a mix of content, with positioning text and figures, and create resources that employees can use to find out more. These might include regular performance dashboards.
Use your people
The organisation’s senior team must take a lead and visible role to communicate your strategy. Storytelling helps to bring it to life, and senior figures will be best placed to give ready answers on their areas of functional responsibility. Make sure your senior leaders are ready to engage on a face-to-face basis with employees as they communicate the strategy. They’ll need to share this sense of purpose, passion and excitement in person to bring it to life.
Similarly, train and support your team leaders and functional managers in their communication responsibilities, which could include team briefings and the delivery of structured presentations as part of a comms cascade.
Use your tools
Complex modern organisations deal with vast reams of data – often from myriad sources. It’s vital to use a software product such as Quickscore to monitor your strategic objectives and KPIs, and to make the production of strategic data as automated, seamless and intelligent as possible. Quickscore can produce rich and intuitive dashboards and presentations in real-time, which your managers and employees can easily read and understand. This makes it far easier to create communications packs and resources which will hit the mark!
By using a system such as Quickscore, you can create reports for all levels and departments in your organisation that show the strategy’s progress and which flag up focus areas. These add weight and substance to your communications activities and help to focus hearts and minds.
1. Be consistent with your communication and deliver on it. If you promise a Friday afternoon update or Q&A with the CEO, make sure it happens.
2. Seek feedback from your audience and look for ways to improve.
3. Don’t always be formal or ‘stuck on numbers’; the strategy needs to get emotional buy-in to capture ‘hearts and minds’.
4. Be ready to tweak your approach as you learn from your feedback.
5. Encourage natural storytellers to come forward and get involved in communications within their teams. For example, local ‘champions’ could give structured team briefs (with resources provided centrally) as part of their own development and personal objectives. Think creatively!
Here to help
The team of strategy consultants at Intrafocus are here to help you at every stage of your strategic journey. From the initial strategy workshop through to the communications plan and rollout, our team of highly experienced consultants can help to ensure your strategy is a success. Please contact us to find out more.