Are Your Teams Rowing Together?

In some ways, sculling team serves as a metaphor for business.  The image of teamwork with all people rowing in rhythm and in the same direction applies to business strategy.

In order for everyone on your staff to push and pull in the same direction to take the business where executive management want it to go, every single employee must understand the purpose of the organization and how they fit into that purpose and the expectations for their performance. The responsibility of management to communicate the business strategy goes beyond publishing mission and vision statements. According to Georgia Everse writing for Harvard Business Review, the company’s core purpose “should be at the core of all of your communications, a simple and inspiring message that is easy to relate to and understand. Strategy-specific messages linked to your purpose become tools to help employees connect their day-to-day efforts with the aspiration of the company.”

To be effective, communication must utilize all available means for distribution and comprehension. This requires that the message be simple and easily understood. Do not confuse “simple” with “easy.” Oftentimes, the simplest concepts are the most difficult to carry out because they tend toward abstraction. After all, consider the Ten Commandments. They’re simple, but not necessarily easy to practice or even explain.

When disseminating company strategy, begin with top management. Especially in large companies, they must understand it, believe in it, and have the ability to answer questions about it. When inculcating management, be sure to provide them with the proper tools and resources needed to implement the strategy. In companies with different departments, each department must be able to develop responses, behaviors, and tasks specific to the work they do to fulfill the strategy.

Effective communication arises from the combination of clarity, alignment, engagement, and reinforcement. The strategy explains how the people in the company will achieve its purpose. For instance, if your purpose is world domination, then the strategies must state how it will do that, such as “transport military troops to the Phrygian shore by January 1.” The drummer who sets the rhythm aligns the rowers into a stroke that harnesses their collective power. A drummer who can’t maintain the rhythm allows his ship to fall behind the fleet or exhausts the rowing crew.

Tactics define the specific actions needed to achieve the strategy and are specific to the department. Your accounting department will take much different actions than the marketing department; however, they will both serve the greater purpose by fulfilling the strategy that leads toward the achievement of overarching goals. The goals support the company’s values which then support the mission and then the vision.

Definition of company strategy requires a combination of visionary thinking and attention to detail. This is the midpoint at which “what to do” merges with “how to do it.” It’s also the point at which employee feedback provides valuable assistance. First, soliciting employees for their thoughts on how to achieve the strategy engages them, especially if their suggestions are adopted and implemented. Especially in large companies with layers of management and multiple departments, no one manager or executive knows everything about each job in the company. It behooves them to rely upon the industry, task, or product knowledge of the employees actually leading the effort (the drummer) and the people supplying the power (the rowers).  Heggen Group will help you define the right strategies and processes for your business and then help you develop a feasible path to achieve them. Contact us to learn more.