Think About Your Employees, Not Yourself, When Creating a Theme for Your Strategy

Posted by David Grossman on Mon,Sep 11, 2017

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I heard an interesting comparison recently. When you see people on the street talking to themselves, they are often classified as “crazy.” Yet what do we call it when we talk to ourselves inside organizations? “Marketing or communications.” 

Unfortunately, that type of talking to oneself—where leaders speak TO their own understanding and perspectives instead of engaging WITH employees—happens too frequently. And the consequences can be significant. 

Often, leaders start to use descriptions that work well in the senior leader strategy sessions, but wouldn’t resonate with the audience – employees around the globe.  A term might be used multiple times, which leads to familiarity and a false sense of likability.  “Works for us so let’s use it more broadly,” leaders might think. 

Themes or Logos That Don’t Resonate with Your Employees is a Missed Opportunity

Every interaction with employees is a precious chance to provide inspiration, motivation, and ask for the actions you desire.

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you consider a theme:
  • Is the language used simple and straightforward (vs. corporate speak)?
  • Can employees easily see themselves in the theme?
  • Will it work throughout the globe?
  • Does it help drive the behaviors you want to see in every employee?
  • Is it easily adaptable or customizable for business units or geographies to continue to drive relevance further down in your organization?
  • Does it connect to your larger organizational branding?
  • Have you tested your theme with employees and adapted it based on their feedback? 

Talking TO employees is a lot easier than talking WITH them. Make sure everything associated with your strategy—from the words that describe it, to the theme or logo that represents it—resonates with those very people on whom you’re relying for success. That’s turning “talking to ourselves” into true “communications that activate."

Are there ways in which you’re talking about strategy today that don’t resonate with employees? 

—David Grossman


This actionable guide teaches leaders how to take the annual strategic plan that rests in the minds of senior team members and plant it firmly in the hearts, minds, and actions of every person in the company. Download this eBook today—start changing the way you do business tomorrow:

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