As organizations roll out their strategic goals for 2021, Communications leaders are focused on aligning employees to the corporate strategy – knowing that they remain in a highly uncertain environment. Business strategies are likely to continue to shift to meet the changing context in which organizations are operating. Communications leaders will be busy cascading a number of changes to frontline employees this year — including major shifts to organizational goals, introduction of new products and services, operational transformation, and changes to cultural norms.
It comes as little surprise that – in the face of these moving strategic targets – employees are struggling to make decisions that are well-aligned to the strategic goals of the organization.
The question for Communications leaders becomes, therefore, how do you increase alignment and connection to strategy to boost the number of employees who are performing well? The most effective way to create that strategic connection is by, first, understanding the four-step employee strategy-learning journey.
Market Context – Market Context is an important, but sometimes overlooked part in the strategy communications cascade. Often, business leaders assume employees already know the external factors influencing strategy decisions OR they feel employees don’t need to know the market context based on the scope of most employees’ day-to-day responsibilities. This, however, is a major pitfall to watch out for. Context like industry shifts in response to COVID-19 is a necessary backdrop for employees to understand the WHY behind changes they will have to align to. By increasing transparency around the potential fluctuations of the external environment, an organization’s corresponding strategic changes will make more sense for employees.
Organizational Purpose and Business Strategy – Employee understanding of the corporate strategy also involves a clarification of how the new strategy is different from what “what we’ve done before”. Clearly articulating how organizational purpose and business strategy fits with shifting market trends will help Communications leaders make the connection between market context and strategy-aligned behaviors for employees.
Strategy-Aligned Employee Behaviors – This is the step where employees finally see “what does this all mean for me” and “what should I be doing about it”. On top of the strategic changes and uncertain environment, Communications leaders are cascading messages to a largely remote and highly dispersed workforce. This means MORE personalization is necessary. Communications leaders can create manager communication guides that provide space for the contextualization and prioritization of the high-level strategic information. Consider prompting questions like “what should we stop doing” and what should we start doing” to make the strategy actionable for employees. Communications leaders can also leverage employee stories to showcase strategy-aligned behaviors in action.
Corporate strategy cascade feels harder this year, but it doesn’t have to be harder for Corporate Communications. Follow the four-step process as a litmus test as you map your strategy communications plan for 2021.