A well thought out strategy is only as good as the paper it’s written on unless it’s put into practice and you successfully implemented.
Studies (and experience) show that execution on your strategies by turning them into action is not quite as easy as it looks on paper, which is why at least half strategic initiatives in businesses fail.
Dedicating time to define and create your company strategies for the next three years signals the start of something promising for your business and can invigorate business owners, leaders, and team members into positive mind-frames. This can however dull quickly if the strategy doesn’t get kicked into action.
As a leader, you’ve been exposed to many more of the company’s triumphs and hurdles while implementing strategy than probably most of your team members. Often, you were able to win the game through trial and error, but there are techniques that can give your strategy a much better chance of success through effective implementation.
Here I’m going to share these 7 secrets on how you can effectively implement a strategy in your business.
1. Align strategic plans, people, resources, and process
Considering that your strategic plans are aligned with your company vision, mission, and objectives, you have your bases covered for achieving your strategic direction.
Now, the real challenge begins as you align your strategic plans with your team members. Alignment drives engagement and productivity. It’s also vital for you to lay down the skills and capabilities to implement your strategies.
When your team members know why they are doing what has been asked of them, they will make more meaningful contributions that will impact your organizational objectives.
Also, your finances should be linked to your strategic priorities at the onset of your implementation plan. Without proper resource allocation, you probably won’t achieve the success you’re gunning for. Map out your goals and create linkages in allocating your resources and attaining your company goals and objectives.
For successful implementation, ensure that your processes or systems also work in synergy with your strategic plan. Existing policies may need to be modified to give way for an improved approach. Working as one can also help facilitate the change you’re planning instead of having team members working in isolation.
Be flexible if you notice that some company initiatives need to be changed to support your new strategies. It’s likely that as you reach your strategic objectives, established company policies and systems will need to be enhanced.
2. Communicate and echo the strategy
Effective communication is essential for any company initiative, more importantly when implementing strategy. At the start of execution, you must determine who will be affected by the direction and action plan to get there.
What questions and concerns do your team members have to be answered in order to perform their job confidently and successfully? Often the terms “strategic plans” or “objectives” become too overwhelming for people to digest and process. They instantly create a perception bias that things are doomed to fail – some people are adverse to change as it puts them out of their comfort zone.
One of the best ways to eliminate these unwanted responses is to break down your strategy into smaller goals or action items. With this, your goals become attainable and more specific, and the deadlines set are more practical and manageable.
It’s also more of a benefit to announce, or even formulate your strategic plan in person to your team members as a group, rather than in writing. Open conversations encourage collaboration and the feeling of inclusion within the team. Communicating the strategic plan in person also helps ensure that it is received as intended – there are certain nuances that can be lost in the written word.
By openly communicating the strategic goals to your team, you become more connected to them individually and as a group in addressing the overall objective.
3. Create an implementation plan and promote accountability
It’s important to develop an implementation plan that will serve as your team’s direction in reaching the set strategic objectives and goals. It should include the list of activities directed to attain the goals, the person responsible, and deadlines to meet.
Ensuring that someone is responsible for each activity guided by a timeline will allow your initiatives to run smoothly. Also, as a leader, you should show how the day-to-day work can impact and contribute to the success of the company as a whole.
The delegation of responsibilities helps instill the notion of trust in your team members which is a strong indicator of a healthy business culture. However, regular updates and progress reports should be provided by your team to ensure that things are running on track and that any issues that arise can be corrected before they get out of hand.
4. Emphasize focus and visualize the journey
There are times when your daily operations can overshadow your strategic implementation. Because of this, it’s important to try to maintain the focus at all levels, from you as the business owner down to the first-line team members.
By creating a visual diagram of how the action items or strategic goals connect to the overall objective and vision of the company, the team can gauge its projected impact and benefits.
Again, this is why it’s so important to maintain regular performance conversations in the company to check how everyone is progressing and for the team members to see how their contributions impacts the company. By conducting brief weekly meetings, everyone is informed and reminded of the goals and their progress to attain success in their initiatives.
Related: 5 Reasons Why You Need To Execute Strategic Planning Today
5. Drive team to action
Instead of the usual PowerPoint meetings, try more creative ways to engage your team. Often, productive brainstorming occurs during in-person events or conferences, team building events, and even coffee talks.
Being candid on any benefits and failures you’ve experienced in implementing a strategy will also encourage transparency. Team members need to know that lessons can be learnt from both success and failure and they should not be afraid of either, so long as they are learning.
6. Monitor progress and check results
A typical challenge in implementing a strategy is that its progress is not monitored, and its outcomes are not communicated effectively.
As a leader, you should ensure that proper measures are set in place to track the progress of your initiatives. Your strategy must be actionable and measurable to gauge how well the team is doing.
Monthly monitoring and feedback should also be performed to check if the company activities are meeting the overall objective. If not, the team must reconvene to discuss the problems encountered and why it does not achieve its goals.
Continuous evaluation and adjustments must be made to attain success and ensure that all strategies are being effectively implemented.
7. Develop a supportive culture
Your company culture helps not only to facilitate your strategic implementation, but also to ensure it remains sustainable. As a leader, encourage your employees to collaborate and be proactive in meeting your strategic goals.
Think of ways on how you can make action plans more fun and exciting to execute on.
Create incentives for hitting or exceeding objectives, but try not to alienate those who may not have hit the mark as others have – use these discoveries as lessons for future engagements.
Cândido, C. & Santos, S. (2015). Strategy implementation: What is the failure rate?. Journal of Management & Organization. 21. 237-262. DOI: 10.1017/jmo.2014.77
Chartered Management Institute. (2020, March 30). Implementing Strategy. Retrieved from https://www.managers.org.uk/knowledge-and-insights/research/implementing-strategy/
Gantner, Lauren. (2017, October 9). Five Best Practices for Implementing Your Strategy. Xplane. Retrieved from https://xplane.com/five-best-practices-for-implementing-your-strategy/
Raymond, Alex. (2014). 5 top ways to implement a strategic plan. The Business Journals. Retrieved November 2, 2021, from https://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/how-to/growth-strategies/2015/03/5-top-ways-to-implement-a-strategic-plan.html
Richards, Leigh. (n.d.). The Best Practices in Strategic Implementation. Chron.com. Retrieved November 2, 2021, from https://smallbusiness.chron.com/practices-strategic-implementation-4647.html
Sedmak, Jenna. (2021, January 7). Improve Strategy Implementation with our 7 Best Practices for Action Planning. SME Strategy Management Consulting. Retrieved from https://www.smestrategy.net/blog/improve-strategy-implementation-with-our-7-best-practices-for-action-planning