Having a strong vision and a clear strategy for the future of your business is fundamental. You need to know where you’re headed and how you plan to get there.
But having all of this stored safely in the brain of your MD, or on the laptops of your SLT doesn’t count for much if your people don’t know it. If your employees are not aware of, and not on board with, your visions and goals, then there’s precious little chance of you achieving them.
And, whilst Covid has undoubtedly thrown a host of new challenges and fresh complications at us all since March, including our ability to maintain the usual level of face-to-face communication with our wider teams, not informing our people of something as fundamental as our strategy (or keeping them informed of our progress) is still inexcusable and asking for trouble.
This is where your internal comms come in to play. Be creative. You need to both engage and inspire with this. Choose your communication tools wisely. Is a face-to-face meeting with everyone possible right now? Even if it is, is it the best option in this case? Could a video sell your vision, strategy and short, medium and long-term goals more clearly, succinctly and with more impact than spoken words and a couple of graphs of projected figures?
Your business’s purpose, vision, values and expected behaviours define your culture and are the pillars on which future success is built. Read more about this here.
With that in mind, here are five key points to remember when communicating your strategic plan:
1. Know your audience
Depending on the size of your organisation and the scope of your staff, you may need to alter the level of detail shared with the various parties. Use a comms plan and consider how each part of your strategy could be received. Be aware that changes are often received negatively, and you may need to build in some reassurances.
2. Start with your backstory
Your history is relevant to your future. Explaining how you got to where you are today will give you and your future plans a solid footing and credibility with your audience. Including mistakes made and, more importantly, lessons learned will give you humanity and make you more relatable. Storytelling is an underrated skill when selling a strategy.
3. Connect meaningfully with your people
If you involved your people prior to this, perhaps through a staff survey or via appraisals, then spell out how they participated in the creation or updating of this, how they helped to shape it, what you learned from them. This will make them feel a part of your plans, and not simply “innocent bystanders” or “casual observers”.
Put your people at the heart of your strategy and how it’s communicated. You can be confident and assertive whilst maintaining the personal qualities that win people over, such as humility, humanity and a sense of humour.
4. The devil is in the detail
Explain the plan thoroughly and carefully. Include potential barriers and likely challenges. Offer some detail on how outcomes will be measured. Remember that not everyone will understand all of the more technical business terms, acronyms or complicated financial or mathematical measures. (See point 1 again.) For example, don’t lose folk with talk of EBITDA’s – explain what this means and why it’s important.
Also, be sure to give due focus to what is different this time, and clarity around the potential impact of the changes.
5. Maintain the comms
Don’t drop this and run. Invite questions and feedback. Further meetings, perhaps with a team leader or line manager, to discuss concerns or seek clarity, can work wonders in getting the strategy to sink in at all levels.
Informing your people of the strategy is only the first step; keep them updated on progress, and keep them on board with what you are trying to achieve with ongoing meaningful and engaging comms. If this requires an overhaul of your overall comms strategy, then now is the perfect time to do it!