This is the final segment of a four-part series!
I want to share with you in a series of 4 brief articles, how to overcome the obstacles to effective and predictable business execution of strategic initiatives.
There are chronic issues that exist in all organizations and far too many leaders accept them as a non-negotiable part of the business environment — things like resource disconnects, decision stalls, organizational politics, weak or passive-aggressive support, or everyone simply being too busy.
Today I want to talk about the fourth and final step in the MOVE model: E= Everyone
Although you can lead a transformation from the top, you can’t DO a transformation from the top. Successful transformation requires that everyone participates. If they don’t move forward, you don’t move forward.
Telling does not equal communicating
You need to be ready to consider this first telling of your strategy to your organization as pretty much a throwaway effort. Yes, it’s a step in the process. Yes, you need to communicate top down. But to genuinely communicate, and to get your message internalized, and for your transformation to take hold, you need to create a fundamental shift in the way that you think about communication. You need to change your existing idea of communication to instead become conversation — that involves everyone.
Your broadcast has almost nothing to do with whether or not something has been communicated. Simply telling people your strategy does not mean they heard it.
You should not assume that just because you have told everyone your strategy (for the first time!), that they were listening carefully, internalized it, know what they need to do personally to act on it, know how to optimize it with regard to their current work, and will actively do the right things to implement their piece of it.
And in fact, it’s kind of funny, when an executive realizes that people “aren’t getting it”, typically I find there is an inverse relationship between the level of emphasis an executive will use to say, “but I was very clear” and how much has actually been internalized by their audience!
Conversation vs. communication
The right measure is never about how clearly you think you have communicated. The only right measure is about how much your audience has internalized.
You have communicated successfully when the people in your organization are talking about it amongst themselves.
For your transformation to work, the change must be part of the social fabric of the whole organization in a very real way — and that happens through conversation.
For example, when you can approach an employee at any level at random and ask, what is the most important thing for us to be doing right now, and why? — and get the same answer most of the time — then you can say that your communication has been successful.
Conversation creates forward momentum, and safety
People will only feel safe to keep doing the new thing if they hear their peers are still talking about it. If the conversation stops people will start asking, “Are we still doing this?’ and your strategy will stall.
Decorate the change
To give people confidence to keep going they need to see signs of the new strategy every single day. Through your conversations and physical modifications to the workplace you can “decorate the change” to make the new way a tangible part of the social fabric of the organization.
Listen and Share
Too many organizations treat communicating as an afterthought, and this is deadly to a successful transformation. It’s important to do not only top down conversations, but foster and environment of sharing information across groups (by making information sharing part of performance objectives!)
Power and Trust
As leaders we have a choice to share power or hoard power. If you share power you build trust, and trust is rocket fuel for keeping motivation and momentum in a transformation. And with trust there is no neutral. You are either building trust, or destroying it. You must invest in building trust through building conversation.
My new book MOVE is about decisively executing strategy
Get your copy of MOVE to help you truly engage people on a personal level, build trust, and increase confidence to move your strategy forward. Learn how to change communication into the kind of conversation that fuels forward momentum, and how to decorate the change so the path forward is an obvious part of the environment every single day.
You can find Patty Azzarello’s upcoming book here:
In my years of leading business transformations and turnarounds, building highly successful management teams, and working with countless clients to implement their strategies, I have determined what factors enable faster, more decisive execution, and reduce risk.
It’s all in the book! I can’t wait to share it! Available in February.
Get a copy for your whole team!
Or if you’d like to pre-order a copy for everyone on your team, contact us for bulk-order discounts.