Seven More Ways to Help Your Employees Execute Your Strategy
by David Lee
Originally published in TLNT.com, February 6, 2013
In Six Ways to Help Your Employees Execute Your Strategy, we covered (surprisingly enough) the first six things you can do to increase the odds that your employees will execute your strategic vision rapidly, with minimum resistance, and maximum results.
Today, we will cover the final seven.
7. Invite feedback and make it safe for people to speak openly
This is where you cannot let efficiency trump effectiveness. Focusing on how to minimize the time spent discussing the initiative is penny wise and dollar foolish.
While you might prefer to limit discussion because it’s uncomfortable dealing with dissent and people’s negative emotional responses, doing so will cost you dearly. If your people don’t feel like they had a chance to be heard, they will not try to understand your position.
Their resentment over not being heard will, at best, make them not want to give it their all. At worst, it will make them want to actively sabotage the initiative.
8. Acknowledge their concerns and distress
Just as customers want to know you’re listening and you understand, so does your team. Make sure you reflect back to them what you are hearing and through your words and voice tone, indicate you appreciate how they feel.
Even if they continue to disagree with the change, if they at least feel like their opinion and distress have been understood, they are far more likely to move on and execute wholeheartedly.
9. Involve them in deciding how to best execute the strategy
This doesn’t just give you valuable “in the trenches” insights that will help you execute faster and better. Asking for their ideas also communicates respect.
Giving managers and employees as much autonomy over the HOW leads to a greater feeling of control over the process, which creates greater receptivity and commitment. It also helps prevent feelings of overwhelm and helplessness, which result when employees feeling change has being “done to them” rather than feeling like they were a part of the process.
10. Ask your team to focus on their Circle of Control
Remind your team that if we focus on things that we cannot control or influence, it just leaves us feeling helpless, angry, and afraid. This is obviously not where anyone wants to be.
Conversely, if they focus on what they CAN control, it will give them much more power over their circumstances. Focusing on their Circle of Control also helps them perform far more effectively, because they’re not wasting their time and energy ruminating about things they cannot change.
11. Ask them what you and the company can do to help them
This not only demonstrates respect and concern, it will also provide you with valuable intelligence for optimizing your execution. Also, when you consider the truism “nothing succeeds like success” and combine it with the research by Dr. Therese Amabile on the power of small wins, you can see even more clearly the importance of this component.
By finding out what specifically you can do to help your managers be successful, you set them up for “the thrill of victory” rather than “the agony of defeat”…which in turn builds confidence, momentum and a “Bring it On!” spirit.
12. Tell them you will pass their concerns and suggestions upstream
Doing this not only communicates respect and concern, it also reduces the chances of Learned Helplessness creeping into your culture and leading to a dispirited, apathetic team.
When employees receive “Stop whining. Suck it up and move on” messages, it creates a culture where people believe “Nothing I think or say matters.” This leads to the Learned Helplessness phenomenon, which is obviously the antithesis of the attitude you want to see in your people.
13. Rinse and repeat
Remember communicating about change initiatives is not a one-time event. Make sure you continue to tell your “future story” and what this new approach will do for all parties.
Make sure you continue to ask if they have questions or concerns. Make sure you continue to engage them in noticing what works and what doesn’t and giving you that information so you can tweak things and give senior leadership “in the trenches” intel. Continue to coach them to focus on their Circle of Control.
While major change is obviously never easy, you can reduce the resistance and accelerate the implementation if you do these 13 things.