Aligning employees to business strategy
Most of us remember playing the “telephone game” as children. You sit in a circle, or stand in a line, and one person starts it all out by whispering a phrase into the ear of the next person, who whispers it to the person next to them, and so on. Once the last person has heard the whispered phrase, they announce it to the group. Invariably the message changed considerably from the beginning to the end of the circle or line.
This is quite analogous to what happens in many organizations when it comes to executing on business strategy. Senior leaders create the strategy, then trickle it down through the organization until it ultimately reaches the people on the front lines. But ask any person on the front line what the strategy is and you’re likely to be met with blank stares and confusion. In many cases, even if you ask this question using more employee-friendly language, such as “How does your work contribute to the organization’s success?”, many still fail to be able to come up with an answer. Unfortunately, the same is often true of mid-and even senior-level management. How they articulate the company’s business strategy may sound very different from what the company’s senior leaders originally articulated.
So the communication of business strategy has become much like the telephone game-only we’re not kids anymore and we’re not playing for fun.