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Do you have an Internal Communication Plan for your Business Strategy?
In any business, employees are key to successful strategy implementation, however they are often the most neglected when it comes to selling strategies and new directions. We spend marketing dollars more freely on customer and consumer insights and in gaining external attention about new products and services, but rarely apply the same investment to internal employees when it comes to selling our business strategies.
Beyond the senior team, strategy implementation will stand a much better chance of success if employees throughout the business share the same commitment, ownership and overall appreciation of the need for change as the CEO and shareholders. To ensure this happens within your business, we have pulled together some important internally-focused activities that you should incorporate into your strategy communication plan:
Canvas employee’s feelings towards your strategy.
Think about having at least a few key focus groups or interviews with selected employees to determine what the real feelings are towards your strategy initiatives before you roll them out. Gaining feedback at this stage will prepare you for potential objections and concerns and give you time to develop responses to these.
Find internal champions and ambassadors.
Strategy communication and implementation should not just be a top-down exercise, find champions and ambassadors amongst middle management and supervisors to reinforce enthusiasm for strategies with their immediate peers and teams.
Make communication relevant at different levels.
Most employees usually approach strategy communication with one big question: ‘How is it going to affect me?’. We believe that generally only 25% of what is included in any communication is remembered, so create a number of targeted communication pieces that specifically address the consequences or changes that will be seen in various divisions or specific teams.
Include the ‘why’ as well as the ‘how, what and when’.
In addition to explaining the activities or components of strategy implementation and what outcomes will be expected, ensure you communicate the reason that the strategy has been developed in the first place and help create that sense of urgency and commitment amongst employees.
Communicate from the top.
Do not substitute peer and senior management communications for clear messaging from the top, people want to hear from the CEO as their leader. Use the additional strategies outlined above to support and reinforce the CEO’s communication throughout the business.
Walk the talk and often.
Executives, your internal champions and ambassadors need to continuously look for ways to connect the strategy to everyday operations and activities. Their role is to reinforce the message through their behaviour and approach to discussions at all levels so that the relevance of the strategy and alignment with it can be seen throughout the business.
Pre-empt the rumours and communicate early.
Second guessing management intentions or implications of new strategies, particularly when concerning restructuring and job losses, amongst employees can cause barriers to strategy implementation. Get in early and ensure that the correct information is given to your teams at the same time to avoid suspicion and the creation of defensive behaviour patterns.
Be as honest as you can.
Communicate only what you are sure about if you want to earn respect, projecting maybe’s that are not followed through will quickly undermine your overall credibility.
If you need help with developing an internal communication plan for your business strategy please contact the SV Strategic Solutions team on 1800 246 801.
Article written by Sheree Cross