One of the hardest challenges leaders face is gaining each employee’s full alignment behind the chosen strategy, especially when the new strategy is a change from the prior direction. Human nature makes it hard to let go of something known for something unknown. But when it comes to strategy, the best strategy in the world only works if every person in the organization is 100% behind it, and changes their focus and work to support it.
Bringing employees along the journey to developing the strategy is critical. Strategic discussions and choices shouldn’t be made by committee, as that will result in an unfocused and likely close-in strategy that doesn’t result in significant change or growth. Instead, seek to help employees understand of the path leadership took in developing the strategy so they can see how the new focus is more valuable. This means frequent check-ins with the team, to help them build the strategy in their own minds. It means being authentic in acknowledging the unknowns, risks and concerns even leadership has with the strategy, along with why you still think the chosen path is still the best path. It requires acknowledging employees are currently doing important work that will stop because of the new strategy. And it means being the enforcer when leaders and managers see evidence of employees doing work that doesn’t support the strategy, and refocusing them on work that supports it. In the end, engaging employees in your strategy can be as important as the strategy itself.