In their efforts to achieve sound business performance, a growing number of managers are recognizing the importance of periodically establishing a clear and concise action plan, in conjunction with their work teams. So what’s the catch? In spite of this growing interest in establishing a strategy, a majority of managers admit that most of the time they still fail to bring these strategic initiatives to completion, as good as they may be. What to do?
Implementing the strategy: a matter of alignment
Did you know that, for the majority of strategic failures, it is not the nature of the strategy itself that is the culprit but rather the quality of its execution? All too often, even carefully crafted strategies are undermined by a lack of implementation savvy on the part of the work teams involved.
To avoid implementation pitfalls, it is essential for every manager to ensure—on a daily basis—that the right people are taking the right steps in order to achieve the right objectives: it’s what we call strategic alignment. There are two essential elements:
- A strong internal communication structure
- Good management tools
Corporate communication structure
“95% of a company’s employees are unaware of, or do not understand, its strategy.” Norton and Kaplan
In a business, achieving strategic targets is obviously dependent on the effort put in by each member of the organization. So it’s critical to know how to communicate the corporate strategy in plain language, using a structured, thorough approach, to ensure that is is clearly understood by all parties involved.
In this regard, communication structure is paramount, as it allows for timely, reciprocal information-sharing between managers and work teams. Through structured communications, managers are able to convey the target objectives and, most importantly, provide follow-up on the results obtained. Without such a structure, there is little hope of forging a strong corporate culture or of generating the lasting results that are expected!
A few tips
- Design the communication structure in your company or team so that information flows frequently and in a timely manner between each decision-making tier. Establish points of contact for each month, week, day, etc.
- Hold team meetings conducive to sharing collective information, as well as individual follow-up meetings to allow managers to provide personal support to each member of the organization.
- Formalize the meetings using a recurring agenda to ensure that information is shared with the members concerned in a structured and standardized manner.
- Periodically conduct an internal evaluation of the communication structure. Attend various meetings held within your company to ensure that messages are consistent and properly understood by members of the organization.
In support of the communication structure, management tools facilitate the tracking of performance results and accelerate decision-making and action planning in relation to the strategic objectives. In management language, we say that good management tools make it possible to forecast future factors, to organize and implement tasks and, ultimately, to evaluate and improve organizational performance.
To a certain extent, forecasting tools make it possible to plan certain key elements relating to work team operations. For example, based on annual cycles, it is possible to anticipate future work volumes and some of the resources required. These tools include budgetary tools and the strategic action plan.
Organization tools provide a simplified snapshot of day-to-day work requirements, team occupancy rates, action priorities, work assignments among the various team members, and allocation of raw materials. Vital tools for work organization include planning charts, production timelines, team capacity management tools and skills matrices.
Used mainly in the field, implementation tools ensure efficient and structured work distribution among employees. These tools also facilitate real-time tracking of operations, in order to prevent problems. Common implementation tools found in the workplace include work orders and task advancement monitoring mechanisms.
Performance evaluation tools are the bridge between what was planned initially and what has actually been achieved; these tools measure the various work teams’ performance results. Good examples of performance evaluation tools include operational and financial key performance indicators (KPIs), management dashboards and financial statements.
In support of performance evaluations, improvement management tools ensure that every manager builds on the evaluation results to drive their team to progress and evolve, now and in the future. Performance graphs, employee communication boards and improvement project matrices are used to raise awareness about performance results and provide structure for taking action.
Performing on a day-to-day basis
For all managers keen to transform their ideas into reality and produce the expected outcomes, strategic alignment is essential. In this regard, communication structure and management tools are critical since they help direct a company’s resources toward its objectives.
A clearly defined strategy, a communication structure and appropriate management tools—everything is in place. Now for some good daily supervision practices!