Nutritionists today urge parents to engage their children in the process of meal preparation and cooking with the notion that children are more likely to eat healthy food that they help to create.
By encouraging children to help with the shopping, unpacking the bags, writing the menu and the cooking itself, parents significantly increase the likelihood that a child will be vested in the final outcome and actually eat the meal.
The same principle applies to the strategy-development process in corporations. All leaders start down the same path to a strategy based on market research and customer preference data, but smart leaders quickly engage layers of leadership and employees throughout strategy conceptualization.
Use these five tips to get your employees on board early and to ensure their participation in the long run:
- Complete a SWOT analysis. As part of getting to a shared context, engage your leaders and employees to determine and then synthesize the most important strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
- Develop and then test messages. Based on the SWOT, work with your leaders to develop or validate/update your vision, mission, values and goals. This comprises the Strategic Frame 1.0. Then, test messages with other layers of leadership for their feedback and to identify barriers. Use their input to develop the Strategic Frame 2.0 as part of your iterative message testing. You might use the same strategy with key influencers throughout the organization who will be critical players to activate employees. Their input will help you create the next version of the plan: the Strategic Frame 3.0.
- Do a reality check. Ask front-line employees who are the closest to customers how the strategy applies to them. If they can personalize it, and it makes sense to you, you’re articulating the strategy well.
- Leave the door open for feedback. Create a resource for employees to provide ongoing feedback directly to leadership. If their voice matters, they will ultimately use that voice to advocate in the future.
- Train employees and arm them with the tools they need. Give employees the opportunity to take ownership of the strategy in a methodical and fun way so that they feel empowered to be the brand ambassador you want them to be. Your goal is to ensure they can articulate how they fit in. If they can do that, they get the strategy and are in the best position to help move the organization forward.
The seed of a strategy idea conceived by a small group of 10 can successfully and rapidly grow throughout a multi-national, multi-million dollar company through systematic employee engagement.
Food for thought that means business.
How do you engage your employees on your strategy and other important topics?
- David Grossman
Get more tips for senior-level leaders by downloading our ebook for CEOs: "What You Need to Know To Make Your Strategy A Reality"