Once, while doing a small survey of the local perceptions on continuous improvement I asked an operator one of the questions in the survey. The question was something along the lines of “are the improvement efforts aligned with the strategy & do they make sense to the individual employee”? The response went something like this; “I’m not sure of what the strategy is here at X, we’re getting fired every week”.
Now it is true that they were in the middle of some redundancies at the time and while I am no fan of this, it was the first part of the statement that hit me. I’m no strategy guru, but I do know, that regardless of what your strategy is or how good it is, without getting people engaged & behind it, your efforts to deliver it will at best be allowed to proceed with little resistance. In reality though, what often happens is that the front line resists any changes, as they do not know or understand why the changes are necessary.
Communicating your vision, your strategy, and your plans for the future is as important as getting them right in the first place. I’m not talking about putting up posters with typical propaganda type slogans but truly engaging with the workforce, gaining understanding not just of what the strategy is, but as much as possible getting understanding of why it is important to deliver it.
People will back what they believe in. Even if they don’t believe in it directly, they often will back the people they believe in. Neither is possible if we do not engage & communicate effectively. Communication is not just about transmitting information, but ensuring understanding & ideally agreement. Communication in this regard (as in many others) is also to stimulate action.
Spend all the time & effort you like getting the strategy right, but ensure the next step is to ensure everyone understands and if possible supports the strategy. It will prove well worth the effort.