Strategically Speaking: Why Employees Need to Know the Company Goals
As the strategic goals of a business change, leaders communicating the changes are faced with an interesting dichotomy: staff at all levels of an organization need to understand the long-term goals of the company to best perform their jobs, but many leaders report their employees are not able to recount corporate strategy. What’s at the root of this problem? The answer may not be as obvious as you think.
Most leaders likely aren’t leaving employees in the dark on purpose. The real culprit is how management is communicating company objectives and through what avenues. Our recent MAPI and Oratium joint survey on ineffective communication highlighted just how damaging poor communication is: consider employees spent 20 hours a year in town hall or staff meetings, yet a third of the time, they walk away with an unclear picture of the company’s strategic direction. Translate this number into dollars, and companies may be losing out on productivity to the tune of $770,000 per year per 5,000 employees. Not only could this lead to employees prioritizing the wrong things, but it could derail an opportunity to clarify and align all employees with the corporate strategy.
Because communications are so inherent to the business, companies are often blissfully unaware of the consequences of inadequate communications and poorly-led management meetings. The good news is however, is that leaders should welcome the challenge and consider introducing some of the below practices:
- Lean on middle and senior management. Companies should target and cultivate the communication skills of those at the middle and senior management levels in the organization. These employees are in a unique – but difficult – position within companies: according to HBR, confusion between senior and middle management employees can often handicap communications. Informal workshops or peer-presentation sharing (similar to a TED Talk) is an affordable solution to honing and developing communication skills for these critical employees.
- Construct a narrative. People respond to stories, and your employees are no different. Not only will a story likely be remembered over a series of PowerPoint slides, but it takes into account the different learning styles of your employees. In addition to narratives, visual aides are effective vehicles for helping employees to speak strategically. This tactic may not speak to all functions within the organization: function leaders can assess how their employees learn best and identify top communicators within a department.
- Promote conversation amongst all employees. “Communication in a two-way street.” Adopting this adage to your business could reap more than just the obvious benefits of increased ideas. Encourage employees at all levels of the organization to offer candid feedback through workshops or informal check-ins. Not only will this fuel employee engagement, it could spotlight areas of confusion and better streamline the company message to all levels of the business.
This post was prepared by Megan Knox, a senior business research analyst, as the second post in a series looking at the impact of ineffective presentations. The first post explores reputational damage and lost productivity.