Strategy communications to your employees can often prove to be some of the most challenging communications. It often brings competing agendas and ideas at the heart of a leadership team to the fore. When we work with leadership teams to develop strategy communications, our starting point is always the strategic narrative. And, in developing that narrative and the communications plan to take that story to your people, similar challenges and themes always come up:
1.You don’t own your strategic narrative
Write it, agree it and then set it free. What we aspire to is making the strategy story compelling, yet accessible, so that people throughout the organisation can easily tell it in their own words. When we get hung up on the detail we lose sight of the bigger prize: people talking about the strategy – what it will mean for your customers and for them as employees.
2. Getting bogged down in the how, rather than the where
I’ve two small children. When I book a holiday, I don’t give them a blow-by-blow account of the trip to the airport, the check-in process, the security screening, the endless waiting around to get on the plane. Nor do I tell them about the insurance I’ll buy, the car hire I’ll organise. I tell them where we’re going, what we’ll see, what our days will be like (ice creams every day, obviously), and how much fun we are going to have.
When you write your strategic narrative are you telling people how brilliant it will be when we get there? Or are you detailing the security check points and the insurance policies?
3.Giving enough of a why
It’s tempting to sugar-coat your strategy communications. Big everyone up: We’re a great business! We’re doing so well! There is a worry that we can’t scare people with talk of change. The danger with this is that you don’t give people enough (or any) reason to change what does need to change. If we are doing so well, then why do I need to change anything I’m doing? Yes, recognise your strengths as a business, but be realistic and straight about what needs to change. People appreciate candour.
4. Not everyone cares about the big picture
But everyone cares about their job and what changes may be about to happen – either to what they are expected to do, or how they are expected to do it. Be very clear on exactly what you are asking people to change. And tell them, and show them, how you will help them make these changes.
5.The worst thing to do is to say nothing
In a vacuum of information, people will come up with their own narrative about the future of the business. Get there first and be clear on your messaging.