So what lies behind this common business problem? According to Wiggins, getting employees on board with your business’s grand plans is the main stumbling block.
“There are many reasons for this failure, but ultimately it simply comes down to a lack of buy in, engagement and a sustained commitment over time by all stakeholders within the organization, with employees topping the list,” he says.
What’s important, says Condon, is that employees understand, relate to, translate and can apply the overarching business strategy to their role, client interactions and day-to-day tasks. However, he believes that they’re all too often starved of adequate information relating to where they fit into the business’ strategy.
The pair point to employee surveys that consistently reveal a common group of underlying factors that crop up in these situations, including:
- No shared belief in the business goal
- No understanding of the importance of the goal
- No sense of ownership or responsibility
- No sense of belonging or being part of team
- No appreciation of the benefit the goal will deliver for the business
“The essence of a high level of strategic engagement is the ability of employees to translate the strategy into meaningful real time decisions that they can make daily in their role, confident that their decisions are not only aligned with the company’s strategy but are helping to move the business forward,” says Wiggins. “Ultimately, the impact and success of strategic engagement comes down to communication.”
So how can you identify the signs of low strategic engagement in your brokerage? Converge’s research has identified the following warning signs:
- Lack of a strategy
- Lack of awareness of the strategy
- Lack of understanding
- Lack of application
- Lack of agreement
- Misaligned culture
What’s important, claim Wiggins and Condon, is that your strategy combines the vision, structure, resources and culture – supported by a detailed action plan that shows employees their responsibilities as well as a delivery timetable.
They add that there is no one size fits all solution, but there are a few key ingredients that are essential in facilitating successful strategy engagement:
- Remuneration: Acknowledge, reward and support the behaviours, decisions and actions that fit with the strategy.
- Induction and training: For example, make it a key part of the induction process to say, “When we use the terms mission, vision and strategy this is what we mean and our mission/vision/strategy is…”
- Regular review and consistent communication: The days of the annual strategy planning process are gone. The business environment moves too fast for businesses to just look at their strategy once a year – do this at least quarterly and reaffirm the strategy at every meeting.
- Graphic representation: Structure this around a measurement tool.
You may have a clear business plan, but is everyone in your brokerage on board? According to Converge Consulting principals Ty Wiggins and Wayne Condon, a failure to execute strategies successfully remains the Achilles heel of many Australian businesses.