5 Small Steps to Better Communicate Your Business Strategy
Authored by John Courtney, Founder and Chief Executive of BoardroomAdvisors.co
Scaling up a business may involve changes in how senior management defines the strategic direction of the company, which, in turn, could affect operations, human resources, finances, and other processes. Although it is not always a drastic shift, business owners must be conscious about guiding their employees through this transition.
Usually, scaleups will be composed of a small group of people dedicated to the business since its early stages. As the business will be pushing to grow further, more employees may be joining the team or the current members may take on more responsibilities than before. Additional board members or executives may also be hired by the business owners to ensure that there is a well-rounded group of decision-makers while scaling up.
Regardless of how the business grows in size, owners will have the task of relaying the business’ purpose, direction, and overall strategy to everyone involved in its operations and growth to ensure that the business moves forward as one strong unit.
Effective communication is essential
It’s common for miscommunication to happen in groups of people. Everyone doesn’t think or comprehend information in exactly the same way, so sometimes there may be a disconnect that’s only realised in the end.
For scaleups entering a phase filled with significant decisions and risks, proper communication of your business strategy from the board through to the employees is crucial. Communicating with high-level managers and rank and file employees also needs to be adjusted accordingly, since they have varying job scopes and concerns in their day-to-day tasks. You don’t want internal communication to be the source of issues you encounter along the way, because even the smallest of errors can create bigger problems than you think.
The word “effective” should also be taken particular note of. Communication is a two-way process wherein it involves sending and receiving information. It’s not enough to just let your staff know the direction of the business and what you all need to do to achieve your goals; you have to ensure that they also fully understand what you are telling them, and they are taking action on it as you expect them to.
5 steps to better communicate your business strategy
1. Have a clear strategic direction
You can’t properly communicate what isn’t there to begin with. Growing a business can be done in different ways, so the path you want to follow and how you plan to undertake it should be clear to you and your staff. A business’ strategic direction should be set early on for everyone in the company to align. Aside from giving everyone a focused objective, it can also inspire the team as they work towards achieving a shared purpose.
Things will not always go according to plan and there may be adjustments here and there. However, despite those minor changes along the way, having an end goal can help guide you, the board, and the employees in making the right decisions.
2. Establish key metrics
At times, just explaining strategies and concepts can be vague and interpreted differently. To implement a more concrete and direct way of setting goals, you can establish metrics for projects, departments, and employees. Having definite ways to measure progress (e.g. key performance indicators) allow everyone to understand the expectations that need to be met. You can easily convey to managers or team leaders the numbers they need to monitor and report on regularly as well.
This works hand in hand with outlining the strategic direction of the business, since it creates specific targets you need to hit along the way. It can continuously paint a clear picture of the goal for your staff as they help move the business forward.
3. Delegate with clarity to the right people
In order to achieve the goals of a scaleup, numerous people will be involved, not just the business owner and the board. Several processes will come into play, requiring a diverse set of skills. Your board might benefit from delegating some of these responsibilities to other experienced team members such as managers and team leaders. They can help make the scaling up process more achievable in a shorter time frame.
As you are passing a baton to them to take responsibility for managing other employees or duties on their own, you have to arm them with clear information and direction. Understand that different responsibilities will have different goals, so you have to communicate that, but never forget to anchor how you communicate these delegated responsibilities to the overall business strategy.
To illustrate, if you are delegating responsibilities to someone in the marketing department, you have to explain how the market share metrics or the campaign they are launching are integral to the company’s end goal.
When these people you delegate to are centered on the same message as you, you can take reassurance knowing that the employees they interact with and the actions they take do not stray away from the direction of the business.
4. Monitor and align regularly
The best way to verify if there is comprehension of the business strategy between you and your staff is by checking the results and performance. Are you reaching the metrics you set? Is the business on track with its long-term goals? Have there been cases of disconnect regarding project objectives?
Setting regular meetings and reviewing progress with your team can help identify if there are gaps in communicating the business’ strategic direction. And whether there are gaps or none at all, re-alignment can be done to make sure that everyone is reminded of the determined end goal.
5. Seek experts for advice
When re-alignment isn’t enough or there are signs that the business strategy in place isn’t working or there are cracks in current efforts to align everyone in the company, consider the possibility that it’s more than an issue with communicating the business’ strategic direction.
In cases like this, experts, especially those with an external perspective, can provide an objective assessment of the business and what needs to be improved. With their help, you can better define or reframe your business strategy before communicating it.
Moreover, it’s important to remember that communicating your business strategy isn’t a one-time thing. It’s a constant endeavor to sustain growth in all departments and aspects while scaling up. Consistently recalling your business strategy in meetings or performance reviews may seem tedious, but this will translate positively in the long run. Senior management and employees can instinctively know what to do since they have a map of where the business should be going.
John Courtney is Founder and Chief Executive of BoardroomAdvisors.co which provides part-time Executive Directors (Commercial/Operations/Managing Directors), Non-Executive Directors and paid Mentors to SMEs without either a recruitment fee or a long term contract.
John is a serial entrepreneur, having founded 7 different businesses over a 40 year period, including a digital marketing agency, corporate finance and management consultancy. He has trained and worked as a strategy consultant, raised funding through Angels, VCs and crowd funding, and exited businesses via MBO, MBI and trade sale. He has been ranked #30 in CityAM’s list of UK