Engagement in the strategy – what can the board do?

Engagement in the strategy - what can the board do?
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The success of an organization’s strategy hinges not just on its formulation by the board and senior management, but also on its embrace and execution by employees at all levels. This article outlines practical ways in which a board can ensure that the entire organization is actively involved in and aligned with the company’s strategic objectives.

In this article, we’ll go through how the board can ensure engagement in the strategy. This is done by:

  • Communicating the strategy
  • Aligning goals and incentives
  • Involving employees in strategy development
  • Integrating the strategy into daily practices
  • Reviewing the strategy work

Communicating the strategy to create engagement in the strategy

Effective communication of the company’s strategy by the board is crucial for aligning employee efforts with organizational goals, enhancing engagement and motivation, and improving decision-making. A well-understood strategy fosters cohesion and collaboration across the organization, empowering employees to adapt to changing business environments and contributing to resilience. This transparency in strategic direction not only attracts and retains top talent but also encourages valuable employee feedback for continuous improvement. Additionally, it fosters a culture of accountability and excellence, as employees recognize the impact of their contributions on the company’s success. In essence, clear strategic communication is pivotal in transforming individual efforts into collective achievements, driving the organization toward its objectives.

Clear and consistent messaging

The foundation of effective strategic engagement lies in the clarity and consistency of the message emanating from the board. Clear communication ensures that every employee, regardless of their position or department, understands the strategic objectives of the organization. This shared understanding is crucial for aligning efforts and fostering a sense of shared purpose. To achieve this, the board must employ a variety of communication methods. Company-wide meetings, for instance, serve as an excellent platform for the board or executive leadership to present the strategy comprehensively and engagingly. Regular updates and reminders can supplement these meetings through internal communication platforms such as emails, intranets, or specialized messaging apps. These platforms offer the advantage of accessibility and immediacy, ensuring that employees remain informed and connected to the strategy in their daily work. The use of diverse communication methods helps cater to different learning and absorption styles among employees, thereby reinforcing the strategic message consistently across the organization.

Leadership as communication champions

Effective communication of the organization’s strategy is not solely the board’s responsibility; leadership at all levels plays a pivotal role. By embodying and championing the strategy, leaders can translate broad objectives into relatable, actionable tasks for their teams. This involves sharing the strategy and demonstrating how each team’s work contributes to the bigger picture. Regular team meetings, one-on-ones, and informal discussions are excellent opportunities for leaders to reinforce strategic goals, address concerns, and provide clarity. Additionally, training leaders to effectively communicate and embody the strategy ensures a unified and compelling message throughout the organization.

Aligning goals and incentives

Linking individual and team goals to strategy

Aligning individual and team objectives with the company’s strategic goals is essential for cohesive progress. This involves setting specific, measurable, and relevant goals for each employee that directly contribute to the broader strategic objectives. Performance management systems should be designed to reflect and reward these alignments. For instance, incorporating strategic goals into key performance indicators (KPIs) and making them a part of regular performance reviews can motivate employees to align their efforts with the company’s direction. Additionally, incentive programs can be structured to reward teams and individuals who make significant contributions to strategic achievements.

Recognition and rewards

Recognizing and rewarding employees who contribute to strategic goals is a powerful motivator. Public acknowledgment in company meetings, newsletters, or on internal platforms can boost morale and encourage others to align their efforts with strategic objectives. Moreover, incorporating rewards that are tied to strategic contributions, such as bonuses or promotions, can reinforce the importance of strategic alignment in performance. Celebrating successes, both big and small, ensures that employees feel valued and see the tangible outcomes of their contributions to the company’s strategy.

Involving employees in strategy development

Involving employees in the strategy development process can provide valuable insights and foster a sense of ownership. Establishing channels for feedback, such as surveys, suggestion boxes, or interactive workshops, allows employees to voice their opinions and suggestions. This engagement not only yields diverse perspectives that could enhance the strategy but also helps employees feel valued and heard. Regularly soliciting and acting upon feedback demonstrates the company’s commitment to inclusive decision-making and continuous improvement.

Fostering a culture of innovation

It’s also highly important to foster a culture of innovation. Why? Creating a culture that encourages innovation is crucial for strategic success. Employees should be encouraged to think creatively and offer ideas that could benefit the strategy. This could be facilitated through innovation challenges, brainstorming sessions, or dedicated time for exploring new ideas. Recognizing and rewarding innovative ideas that align with strategic goals can further encourage this mindset. Such a culture not only drives strategic progress but also contributes to employee engagement and job satisfaction.

Integrating strategy in daily operations

Integrating the strategy into daily operations is essential for its realization. This means moving beyond the strategy being a document or a set of objectives to it being a part of everyday decision-making and processes. Managers and team leaders play a crucial role in this integration, ensuring that daily tasks and decisions align with the strategic goals. Regular reminders of strategic objectives in meetings, performance check-ins, and internal communications can help keep the strategy front and center in daily work life.

Role modeling by the board and executives

The behavior and attitudes of the board and executive leaders set the tone for the entire organization. When these leaders consistently demonstrate a commitment to the strategic goals through their actions and decisions, it serves as a powerful example for the rest of the organization. This might involve leaders taking part in training sessions, openly discussing strategic challenges, and demonstrating strategic decision-making. Such visible commitment can inspire and motivate employees at all levels to align with the strategic direction.

Cross-functional collaboration and regular reviews for engagement in the strategy

Encouraging collaboration across different functions and departments can enhance strategic alignment and execution. Cross-functional projects and teams that focus on strategic objectives help break down silos and foster a broader understanding of the strategy. These collaborations can lead to innovative solutions and a more cohesive approach to strategic challenges. Regular cross-departmental meetings and shared projects can be effective ways to promote this collaborative spirit.

Regularly reviewing the strategy makes it more engaging

The business environment is constantly changing, and so should an organization’s strategy. Regularly reviewing and adjusting the strategy ensures it remains relevant and effective. Involving employees in these reviews can provide fresh perspectives and a sense of participation. Sharing the outcomes of these reviews and any subsequent changes in strategy helps keep everyone informed and adaptable. This process underscores the dynamic nature of strategic planning and the organization’s commitment to staying agile and responsive.

How can we help?

The board’s role extends beyond strategy formulation; it plays a crucial part in ensuring the strategy permeates the entire organization. By fostering clear communication, aligning goals and incentives, involving employees in strategic development, educating and maintaining transparency, integrating strategy into daily operations, and promoting collaboration and adaptability, a board can effectively mobilize its workforce toward achieving strategic success.

At Governance@work we provide governance evaluations for your board, management team, and CEO. The evaluation gives you valuable insights on how to best prioritize your work, highlighting areas of potential and where you need improvements. The evaluation gives you time to reflect, especially on important questions like “are we able to implement our strategy”? Contact us to learn more about our evaluations and how they can be helpful in steering your governance performance!

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