There’s a big difference between knowing what the strategy is and being able to connect with it. Bottom-line: the difference is engagement.
Organizations create strategies all the time. They communicate those strategies on a regular basis. For example, you could read a company’s strategy in the news. That doesn’t mean you’re connected with the strategy. It simply means you’ve read it, comprehended it, or agreed (or perhaps disagreed) with it. Maybe you can even articulate it.
Connecting to or engaging with a strategy is different. The first part is the same. In order to connect with a strategy, you have to know it and understand it. During this year’s SilkRoad Connections conference, I heard the phrase, “communicate 70 times in 70 different ways.” I don’t know that you have to take the “70” number literally but I think it’s a great point. We each have our preferred methods of communication. If you want me to know something, then you have to present it to me in my preferred communication method and style – that might be email, or social media or in person.
But after you communicate the strategy, then what? How can you create connection? Well, here are a few things to consider:
Develop goal or values icons to show the connection. Sometimes we need to take the extra step of showing the connection between goals, strategies and organizational values. One organization at the conference included goal icons and values icons (see image above) in their communications so employees could see how the pieces fit together.
Create an online magazine. No need to print an expensive publication – I immediately thought of apps like Flipboard with this suggestion. Think about opportunities to curate information about the organization for employees to read on their mobile devices. Another way for employees to get the information they want in a format that’s easy to digest.
Establish a beta group. I’ve been involved in a few of these lately for apps that I use and it’s fun. Ask for a few volunteers to get feedback about communication effectiveness. You can create a secret Facebook group to manage activity – that way you can get perspectives from all over the organization, not just the employees near you. And you create connection – with the employees in the beta group as well as in the effectiveness of subsequent messages.
Hire an HR Communications Manager. I’ve been hearing about an increasing number of companies hiring internal communications managers. Their role? To make sure employees don’t say, “But I didn’t know…” I’m a little torn about this suggestion. On one hand, it’s great because you can never have too much communication. On another, hiring a communications specialist cannot absolve the rest of the organization from communicating.
The goal in creating organizational strategy is to have employees engage with the strategy. Otherwise, it’s just words on a page. Engaging with the strategy makes it happen. It brings the strategy to life. The way to do that is via communication and connection.
Image courtesy of Sharlyn Lauby0