When it comes to corporate strategy, employees often tune out because they perceive strategy to be a top-down process and their participation to be inconsequential. Corporate strategy communication needs to be less of “this is what we decided” and more of “here's our direction and how you can contribute.”

Here are five tips to help employees understand their role so they get involved in supporting the company's goals.

Set the stage. As with any change, employees want to know why. Explain how a strategy provides focus for the company. Describe what's at stake if things don't change. And remind employees that a strategy is not set in stone; it changes to help the organization respond to competitive pressures or market issues.

Focus on direction. Employees hate uncertainty, and talking about a new strategy implies movement from a current state to an uncertain future. Good strategy communication makes the future clear, including the end goal and ways to get there. By focusing on direction, change feels worth the effort.

Simplify, simplify, simplify. Strategy and corporate speak seem to go hand in hand: strategic imperatives, value drivers, aspirations, framework… Just because certain words and phrases are used in the C-suite doesn't mean you need to use them too. For example, “strategic direction” can be conveyed as “how our work will change” and “aspirations” as “five-year goals.” Keep the language approachable.

Map it. Visuals are the perfect way to communicate complicated content. A graphic that represents all of the moving parts of a strategy-a strategy map-specifies how everything works together: how the strategy supports the vision and how new processes will help to implement the strategy. The best maps make cause-and-effect relationships explicit, so employees can connect the dots between actions and results.

Ask them. Understanding comes with dialogue and opportunities for input. And there are many ways to involve employees in strategy communication, by allowing them to ask questions, comment or offer ideas. For example, after sharing your strategy map, ask employees how this direction will impact their department or team. Do they have any ideas to help the company reach its goals? Post their ideas for everyone to see.

 

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