Do you feel the “New Year town hall” (you know, when the top executives communicate their strategy) gives you a fresh start?
It should. In theory, sharing a vision is the best way to create a sense of contribution.
But in reality, when CEOs talk strategy, 70% of the company doesn’t get it.
Few people can connect the “top of the house” message to the mundane reality of their day-to-day job. But everyone’s trying to understand what to do and be part of the big plans.
Are you one of them? Would it help you to make that message meaningful? Do you need to navigate change easily?
Here are my 5 tips to make strategy real in the day-to-day.
1. Get familiar with strategic messages
The impact top management are looking for is at market, and company level. Therefore, their vision is set to be a direction of travel only.
One of the best examples is Elon Musk’s master plan for Tesla. His strategy involved car making, but his final goal was to provide solar power. Does it mean the ones who worked on the early plan for solar technology were part of the vision only?
Probably not. I’m sure everyone working on the first concept car felt 110% part of the journey.
If a strategic message aligns to a high-level plan, goals and expected outcomes are real. As are the tasks that will make the strategy real. There might be several steps before your activities play a direct role in achieving the wider goal.
2. Make strategy real with your team
The company’s top level share the message, but contribution is everyone’s job – a vision lives in the achievements of the teams who make it a reality.
A leader should raise awareness of collective contribution, but each team member has to take responsibility to make strategy real, and work on both individual and collective actions.
Therefore, a collective exploration with your team members is a must-have. A discussion in the weekly team meeting can help clarify the big picture, and provide a few concrete examples of what the message really means.
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3. Own the vision at your level: set goals
If you want to make strategy real for yourself, you need to be proactive and own it. Everyone has goals (if you don’t, you can create some for yourself – check out this beginner’s guide to goal setting here).
Set aside some time to review your objectives, keeping the big picture in mind. Use your job description, and see if your role needs to change in order to contribute to the wider objectives.
Of course, it won’t be a perfect match at first. But what counts is that you’ll explore how what you want to achieve, at your level, can make a difference. Think of the butterfly effect; a large impact begins with a collection of small events.
4. Set yourself up for recognition
Let me share a trick I learned through my consulting years. When Executives hear of a specific piece of work that exactly matches their long-term intentions, they will want to know the individuals involved.
Executives, too, want to make strategy real! They want to tell success stories everyone can connect to. They need testimonials that their message has been understood; it shows that their people, at a lower level, do care.
- Related: What You Must Know To Connect With Senior Leaders – Part 2: Use Powerful Conversations To Build Trust
If some of your work (or your team’s) helped to move the needle, ensure it has visibility. You don’t need to deliver a multi-million dollar project to do it. A significant achievement, articulated well, at the right time, and by the right person, is equally impactful.
Suggest an idea to your boss! Bring the awareness directly to your execs. It’s a way to get noticed and earn recognition easily.
5. Check-in regularly
A long-term target can’t be granular to start with. Therefore, regular check-ins are important to make strategy real in the day to day. They provide the opportunity to make the roadmap realistic, and keep everyone motivated.
A vision lives in execution, but breathes through communication. To make it come alive, check in regularly. Precise communications from the Top Management give indications on progress and the roadmap. Use them as a way to challenge what you and the team are doing.
For instance, I remind my teams every week why we do what we do, what is the immediate next step, and how this will impact long-term objectives. It helps them connect each task to a wider contribution.
A strategic vision is a useful tool to grow a sense of contribution. When it is owned during the day-to-day, it’s an opportunity to feel part of the “master plan”.
But not only that. Achieving a bigger goal involves a series of small successes. Strategy becomes real, at your level, when you actively incorporate it into your day-to-day.
Demonstrate how your achievements contribute to the long-term strategy – if you can make top management aware, even better. Who knows, it could spark the beginning of a mentorship!
What vision has been the most appealing to you? Leave us a note in the comments below!