In a recent study conducted by the Harvard Business Review, researchers found that 95% of employees do not understand how their day-to-day activities contribute to the strategy set by the executive team.
According to Franklin Covey, the biggest reasons strategic initiatives don’t get done is due to the enormous amount of energy it takes to run daily operations. Let’s face it, between serving a customer and working on a strategic initiative, which one is your team going to work on? Every time, it will be the day-to-day work. So now that we know what the issue is, how do we fix it? Here are 4 steps that can help.
1. Ensure that employees embrace the company’s identity. An identity statement is not only something you tell your prospects and customers, but also a statement you hold your team accountable to on a daily basis. For example, Apple’s identity statement is “creating simple and easy to use technology.” Keep your identity statement to no more than 10 words to make it easy to remember and share with others.
2. Publicize and internalize your core values. When employees understand and internalize the company’s core values, they have clarity on how they should operate to succeed within the organization, which leads to an increase in productivity. For example, at a recent executive retreat, one of the core values for a design firm was that they deliver their designs in a profitable manner. By having this core value, they can now hold their designers accountable not only for delivering great designs, but also for doing it in a profitable manner.
3. Ensure that everyone is focused on a singular goal. Many businesses suffer from having too many strategic initiatives going on at the same time. We find that there is always one overriding goal for a business that trumps all others. For example, an engineering firm was able to increase its profitability rate from 16% to 21%. It accomplished this by making sure each project manager was trained on creating project work plans and having a communication plan with each of their clients.
4. Create 90-day sprints. A 90-day time frame breaks down a one-year goal into achievable action items that don’t overwhelm the business. For the company discussed above, the engineering department’s 90-day goal was to ask the most successful project managers for best practices they used in managing projects. Information gathered was then used as the baseline for rolling out project management best practices to the rest of the team.
Based on doing hundreds of these retreats and working with companies to implement the 90-day goals, we find that profitability increases 22% to 27% over a 6-12 month basis, while employee attrition goes down 62% to 78%, and employee productivity doubles.