To engage employees with your business strategy, keep it simple

7 October, 2019
Employee engagement

Eliminate confusion to drive coordinated action

If you want to achieve the objectives of your business strategy, all of your employees must be pulling in the same direction. Yet, in many organisations, this doesn’t appear to be the case. People appear to be working toward different goals, or are standing still, scratching their heads. The net result is underperformance. Why is this, and how can your organisation ensure it doesn’t suffer from this issue?


Is your business strategy causing ‘decision paralysis’?

Have you ever sat in a restaurant and been unable to decide what to order? This is a common problem in restaurants with huge menus. There is so much choice that you become unable to make a quick decision. You send the waiter away two or three times before finally making up your mind and even then, you aren’t sure whether you made the right choice.

This is ‘decision paralysis’. Even though each option may be simple, the sheer choice on offer has made your decision a difficult one to make. It has become complicated.

Now, compare this with a restaurant with only three or four items on the menu. The decision of what to eat is much easier to make. Do you go for the fish, chicken, steak or vegetarian option? Not only is the choice much easier, but you make it far more confidently. All the layers of complexity have been removed.

When setting your business strategy, you want people to engage with it and make the decisions that will help to drive your organisation toward its goals. You need to describe your business strategy so that your employees understand it. You need to keep it simple and eliminate decision paralysis.


Reduce choice to compel action

By its very nature, a business strategy is often a complex proposition. You need to consider all the facets of your organisation – the markets in which it operates, its suppliers, rules and regulations, the need for quality customer service, the need to manage costs, and so on. Explaining all of this to your employees would be like giving them a menu of options that will have them pondering their decisions forever.

At the C-suite level, it may be impossible to reduce the complexity of your business strategy, but you do need to explain it so that it makes decision-making and action-taking easy. Narrow down the choices that your employees have, and you will engage them with your business strategy with greater purpose.


The benefits of making business strategy simple

Removing the complexity of choice when describing your business strategy will deliver many benefits. These include the following:

  • Employees understand it

A simple solution is understood by all, across the multiple layers of your organisation. Complicated directions become lost in translation. Make it clear and concise with storytelling that gives your business strategy greater depth of meaning for individuals, and you’ll maximise the chances of all your employees ‘getting it’.

  • Universal buy-in

When you communicate your vision with clarity and provide a single direction for people to follow, you are more likely to gain universal buy-in. Understanding breeds confidence and confidence compels willingness to engage and support.

  • More easily measured results

It is difficult to execute complicated strategies and even harder to measure results. A simple and straightforward direction with easily defined and understood metrics of success helps to keep employees engaged in the business strategy and pulling toward collective goals.

  • It is easier to master simple

Straightforward strategies are not only easier to execute, they are also easier to execute well. There will be shorter learning curves, helping individuals and teams accelerate toward mastery. It is this that will drive you toward the goals of your business strategy must faster.


Simple business strategy in action

The online accommodation booking website Airbnb is a huge success story. When it was first founded it took a while to gain momentum. While a few bookings were taken, it wasn’t enough to even pay the founders a living wage. To make their money up, they also sold cereal.

While the Airbnb model looks simple, the business strategy is far more complex. There are owners and customers to consider, rules and regulations to adhere to, billing and payment models, reviews and complaints… you get the picture. But to get the ball rolling, Airbnb’s founders boiled their strategy down to one simple directive – post pictures of Airbnb listings.

This is a direction that everyone understands. High-quality pictures sell. As soon as they did this, Airbnb’s sales took off. It was a simple strategy that everyone could understand and buy into, and become engaged with.

To win the hearts and minds of your employees and get the buy-in that will drive your organisation toward its strategic goals, keep things simple. Don’t ask your employees what they want to eat. You’ll get a hundred different answers. Ask them if they want pizza.

To understand how the Learning Map could help you improve your organisation’s effectiveness in engaging employees with its business strategy, get in touch with The Big Picture People today.

(To see how putting people in the picture creates a shared vision and helps set a concrete destination, read this case study.)

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