This article appeared in the January 2020 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.
Like the New Year’s resolutions graveyard, the strategy landscape is littered with great ideas that do not reach full potential. What causes strategic initiatives to fail? How can you strategically accomplish more with the resources you have? Following are three frequently experienced barriers to executing strategy and suggested solutions to make your efforts more successful.
Various strategy studies peg between 90-95 percent of employees do not understand their organization’s key strategies. Just think of all the daily decisions made across your company without a clear understanding of the company’s direction. Pick an initiative that has recently failed, and consider if communication is to blame. To improve communication, publish your strategic initiatives for all to see, stress their importance at the onset and refer back to them throughout the year. Regularly ask individuals throughout the company if they can tell you what the key strategies are. If they cannot, the message is not getting through as intended or is not discussed frequently enough to keep it top of mind. Keep communicating until you are confident all levels of your company know and understand its strategy. Schedule out regular updates and seek feedback on implementation successes and challenges to reinforce its relevance.
Alignment with Compensation
“You get what you pay for” certainly applies when implementing strategy. Your success rate can drop dramatically if you have strategic initiatives not specifically tied to compensation. Establishing strategy-related goals and linking them with compensation clearly communicates the importance to the company and the individual. Given the intense time pressures imposed on most individuals, the shifting of workload or reprioritizing of projects may need to occur to make accomplishing a goal manageable. If tying compensation to specific goals is a new practice, consider starting on a smaller scale and building to larger goals and amounts over time fueled by the success of prior goals.
The rate of change is ever increasing in not only its pace but also the variety of ways it can affect a company, so the need to change will only continue to heighten. One of the biggest change killers is the passive resister. You know the type, rarely objecting or offering solutions, but as soon as plans are made, they undermine decisions and impede change by either throwing up barriers, or simply not adding their energy to the cause. Active resisters are easier to spot, while the stealth-like nature of a passive resister often makes them more dangerous. The key is to be able to identify change agents and empower them. As for the resisters, change who you can and “neutralize” who you can’t.
If your company struggles with change, I suggest starting with small initiatives and building momentum to larger ones over time. Remember to celebrate successes along the way. Define what represents a win and make sure you acknowledge and reward those results as early and often as you can to keep the energy level high.
Maner Costerisan is an MMA Premium Associate Member and has been a member company since October 1976. Visit online: www.manercpa.com.