Updated: Sep 24
You’ve just spent twenty minutes describing next year’s strategy. There were a few perfunctory questions, but you sensed a lack of commitment and energy as your audience filed out of the conference room, many with a perceptible question mark over their heads. What went wrong?
When sharing strategy, it’s important to connect some important dots. Here are four tips to communicating strategically.
1) Provide appropriate context
Effective strategy communication begins with providing information that connects your message with the bigger picture. Before beginning a strategy conversation, ask yourself the following questions:
What is the background information that “sets the stage” for your communication?
What is the significance of the strategy?
Why is this topic important to your audience?
Why is it important now?
2) Link your message to your vision
When discussing strategy issues link your points directly to the vision that the strategy is designed to realize. Help people understand what role their actions will play in accomplishing the vision. Ask yourself these questions:
Have I explained the vision in a compelling way?
Have I made it clear why the vision is important: what problems will be overcome and what new circumstances will make our organization a better place?
Have I created an appropriate sense of urgency?
3) Be appropriately transparent
One of the top motivators for most individuals is the sense that they are “in on things”. No one likes operating in the dark; being told what to do but not why. Be sure to provide as much detail as possible. This builds trust. When you are perceived to be holding back information, others may withhold trust…and commitment. Important points to include:
Why will this strategy work?
Why will our organization succeed when the strategy is successful?
What is the impact on work? …customers? …competition?
What challenges must be overcome to be successful?
4) Set clear expectations
At work, we have expectations about how we will be treated, valued and supported. Expectations are normal and healthy. What is unhealthy is un- or under-communicated expectations. Yet in the rush of meeting-packed days, failing to communicate expectations can happen. And this can lead to confusion, conflict and consternation.
Communication effectiveness is directly related to the extent to which expectations are shared and understood. To ensure you are communicating strategically, ask yourself the following questions:
What are my expectations for what my audience needs to understand?
What do I expect my audience to do as a result of this conversation?
What can my audience expect from me relative to this discussion?
Remember…expectations are a two-way street. Be sure to check out others’ expectations of you.