You may have spent hours or even days developing your annual business plan… now what? The logical answer is a comprehensive communications plan so the business plan is shared with the entire organization, right? This sounds easy enough but does not answer the “why” and the “how.” Understanding the “why” will give us the “how.”
- It aligns thinking and decision making from top to bottom
- It provides visibility on company goals and objectives which allows others to align their respective efforts and performance targets
- It sends a message to employees “this is the direction we are headed – help us succeed”
- It creates a business atmosphere where people truly understand how their work contributes to the company’s success
- It helps create an engaged workplace culture
- It works; it’s what successful leaders do
“Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.” Howard Aiken, computing pioneer, IBM
Ask any business executive how many times they need to repeat a strategic message before it is effectively absorbed by their organization and their eyes will roll. In one of my recent conversations, the number was “17.” This may seem exaggerated but it’s consistent with my experience. The ways in which you communicate are equally important. There are more opportunities than you may think:
- Company Meetings: This is an ideal forum to provide the highlights of your strategic plan (overall direction), and to reinforce your mission and values. However, don’t expect many questions. Most people are not comfortable speaking up in this setting. Smaller group settings will stimulate better dialogue.
- Department Meetings: Employees want (and need) to know how company goals and objectives trickle down to them. This is a perfect opportunity for department heads to discuss the impact it will have on the department and how success will be measured.
- Team Meetings or Discussions: There are a variety of projects and programs occurring at any given time during the year. Respective leaders should reinforce the value of these projects back to the specific elements of the strategic plan.
- One-on-One (coaching) Dialogue: Helping employees understand how their work contributes to the company’s success is a critical part of creating an actively engaged workforce. This can be planned or off-the-cuff. Either way, ongoing employee feedback will keep them focused on and aligned to what is most important.
And finally, “rinse and repeat” – this is not a linear exercise. Communicating your business plan and strategic vision is an ongoing interactive process of learning, development, and growth for your employees – all of them.