Tips for how your managers can better understand your strategy
The Manager by Designsm blog has recently been focusing on how managers – or “strategy executors” – can better align their work to . . . strategy executors. The Manager by Design blog believes that managers are strategy executors and leaders are the strategy developers. In my previous article, I provide tips for infusing the strategy into the manager’s goals/objectives, and testing whether the managers – and their employees — can articulate what the strategy they are supposedly executing is.
But managers need better performance support than simply putting the strategy in their goals. You want to make sure your managers are capable of making good interpretations of the strategy, and have some sort of specific and immediate feedback on these interpretations. Makes sense, huh? But how would you describe how your organization provides ongoing support for helping the manager interpret the organization’s strategy?
Here are some tips for improving this:
1. Provide access to those who developed the strategy
It’s one thing to have a group that develops the strategy, and it’s another to have that group accessible to help interpret the strategy. A strategy is, in essence, a summary statement of intent by leadership, so there are times when those who are carrying out the intent need to check in on whether their understanding of the intent is correct. To help with this, check the communications paths that are available to your managers. Do they have access to those who went through the strategy development process? Do they even know who developed the strategies? On the flip side, do people in the group who developed the strategy know who will be executing the strategy? If not, then there is a much lower likelihood that the strategy will be understood or interpreted by the strategy executors.
2. Include some managers in the strategy development process
First, I’m assuming that there is a strategy development process in the organization. If this is not the case, then perhaps it is time to consider one. If you do have such a process, how do you include the managers in the process? Many times the “inclusion” is the “announcement” of the strategy as a handoff to the managers, and that is it! But this, too, is a low percentage proposition in assuring your managers can understand, re-articulate and make good decisions based on the strategy.
One way to improve this “handoff” is to identify how managers are included in the process of strategy development when the process takes place. You don’t have to include all managers, and it doesn’t have to be the same managers each time the strategy development takes place. In doing this, no only do you assure that you have management inclusion, but when the strategy is “announced”, there are resources (see point 1) that are nearby that can better articulate the intent of the strategy and how it should be interpreted.
There are other benefits for including managers in the strategy process. In my next article, I’ll provide tips on how to include the managers (a.k.a., strategy executors) in the strategy development process and what some benefits of this process are.