When translating an overall business strategy into operational changes, and instilling ownership of the strategic pursuit throughout a company, one’s got to communicate properly. In this blog I’d like to list some key pointers on how to create and deliver such communication.
Get the message right
Ensure it resonates with your employees
According to research, to be successful, a person’s level of grit is more important than talent. The two underlying components of grit are purpose and perseverance. In my view, this is also valid for successful companies. At its core, purpose is the idea that what we do matters to other people. A company’s purpose – its impact on the lives of whomever it tries to serve ─ should be “felt”. Through communication, employees should get a sense of alignment with their company’s purpose, in order to enable the changes that are being pursued. A great example is the Kellogg company purpose: “Nourishing families so they can flourish and thrive”.
Utilize tools for structuring your message
The pyramid principle (Barbara Minto) ─ a classic in consulting ─ can help you ensure your message has a solid structure. Through structured messaging it will be easier for the recipient to follow your reasoning. In the case of presentations, storyboarding can improve the efficiency of your efforts. Joint meetings and the use of whiteboards in which key messages and supporting arguments (presented in words and graphs) are discussed, will give you a head start in knowing how to build your content and will highlight potential gaps in your logic.
Utilize different platforms
Different individuals have different preferences regarding the consumption of information. Even though official channels must be used when a strategy is ready for company-wide communication, other small efforts will also go a long way. For example, if an employee is writing an internal blog – ask her/him to relate part of the story to the overall strategy.
Deliver your message
Know when to communicate what
The timing of communication matters. For example, if cost cutting is required, it may cause alarm among employees. In this case, sensitively timed announcements of actions to be taken to help weather the storm are crucial – especially if the aim is to create understanding and acceptance of lay-offs. Nor is it a good idea to give ‘bad news’ on a Friday or just prior to a holiday period.
Be flexible and willing to listen
Although strategy messages should be well-structured and logical, these are not the only important criteria. Dialogue and flexibility are just as crucial, if you want to help a strategy start ‘living’ within your firm. Make sure that co-workers can participate in guided discussions on how the strategy could affect daily work. If the outcomes of such sessions have slightly tweaked parts of the strategy, these can be used as “stories” which help employees take ownership of the ideas expressed. And when employees sense they are able to influence the company’s strategy they are much more motivated to work on its pursuit. This will also validate the company’s purpose and your employees’ alignment with it.