Strategies are wonderful. They guide the organization. For the strategy to guide it must be communicated, supported and followed. Here are some thoughts on communication, building support and followership.
Strategic communication seems simple. Whip up a few slides, stand in front of the organization and speak to them. The realization that one slide deck and one conversation is not enough may be surprising for new managers. Effective communication can be an elusive skill for some organization. The reality is that a message and especially a strategy, which may have many layers, takes time to absorb. The leadership group creating the strategy has been thinking and building it for months quite often. This same leadership group forgets that the organization needs time to absorb, process and move on the message.
Consider planning a layered roll-out which includes at least 2 forms of communication. First, plan a roll-out with the key leaders and extension of the staff which created the strategy. If possible identify a set of mavens. The mavens will continue to be your messengers and those that maintain a consistent message inside the organization. Continue to keep these mavens close enough to the details of the plan so they can speak to others in the organization. Finally, provide open discussions with smaller cross-functional teams to allow for questions and feedback.
Because not everyone absorbs information in the same way, multiple methods of communication are advisable. The materials can be in the form of a formal presentation, a one-page communication pamphlet, or a video message. The advantages of written documentation and video messages are that the organization can reference these sources when needed. As stated in the other blog posts, I would also recommend creating a visual or picture to portray the strategy.
Leverage your mavens in the organization. These are people that understand the strategy in enough detail to answer concerns and questions for others. They should also be people for which others follow and trust. There can be ways to identify these people in your organization. If you don’t know who these people are then consider mapping the networks. Ask the organization to give you names of 2 people who they would most often go to for advice or help. Use the information to create the map and understand those most influential. The idea of mapping may be unrealistic in some organization but it could be leveraged.
Another way to build support is to begin to build the sub strategies and projects for strategy execution. By building the projects through scopes and metrics others can more definitively understand how their own work fits into the strategy.
Lastly, build trust. As it applies to a strategy, building trust can mean being transparent about answering questions and supporting the subprojects.
Once the sub strategies and projects are established, the next step is to hold the organization accountable to delivering. Consider creating a structure for accountability on no less than a quarterly basis.
Celebrate the completion on appropriate deliverables and encourage the continued progress. Lastly, circle back to communication. Communicate the progress to the organization and reveal the results of these strategic actions.
Continuing your responsibility as a strategic leader by planning the communication, support and followership can enhance your skills and the organizational alignment.