Why is your strategy failing? There are three likely explanations.

on April 28, 2022
Resources All Managing Change

Leaders across the globe are continuously striving to do more and do better for their employees and the customers they serve. This results in an endless quest to craft and activate strategies that will deliver better results than the year before. However, the desire to succeed is often eclipsed by many roadblocks and challenges. And despite the number of studies done on failed strategies and how to avoid them, things don’t seem to be improving. In fact, an article from a 2021 issue of Harvard Business Review tells us:

“The CEO’s job of crafting a strategy that creates and captures value – and keeps realizing it over time – has never been harder.”

If leaders face more challenges than ever before, is there any hope? The good news is that yes, it’s definitely possible for a leadership team to craft and deploy a strategy that achieves the goals it was meant to accomplish. To increase the odds of success, here are three mistakes to avoid when activating your next initiative.

Common reasons that strategies fail

While it would be impossible to predict all the problems your organization will face when prepping for a new program or organizational change, we can predict a few of the more common ones. Have you fallen into any of these traps?

1. Not engaging your managers in your strategy

Many leaders forget that not everyone will be as engaged in the big-picture plan as they are. After all, when planning for large-scale change, the leadership team often holes up in a conference room (or logs on to a video call), working together for many hours to finalize a strategy and build a plan. When it comes to activation, leaders assume their next-level leaders and managers will automatically become as immersed in and as supportive of the plan as they are.

But that’s not how things usually go. The leadership team should never assume that the managers and customer-facing employees will love the new concept or plan. That’s because it’s just not enough to have a great idea and put a smart plan behind it. Leaders must make sure the strategy resonates beyond the C-suite. They must be sure that managers are engaged in a strategy before expecting them to lead their people in executing it.

2. Forgetting the “why”

We are human beings, and human beings are hard-wired to take in information, form conclusions, and act on those conclusions. If you don’t want people to jump to incorrect conclusions, then give them the “why” behind the plan. If managers and front-line employees don’t know why a program was created or how it can help the company, then how can they be expected to make their teams excited about it? Managers play a critical role in supporting how a strategy is executed on the front lines.

3. Missing the bigger picture

If leaders aren’t sharing the big-picture strategy with the entire company, they shouldn’t expect anyone to feel engaged in the long-term journey. This could be one of the quickest ways to motivate people to leave your organization. When employees don’t really have a grasp of the direction of the company, it can create several challenges, including lack of employee engagement, reduced productivity, and poor customer service.

It’s often said that engagement happens when people feel like they’re a part of something bigger than themselves. This only happens when senior leaders engage managers and team members in a dialogue about the business. Managers will be more effective when they’re aware of the bigger picture and understand how their teams support the strategy of the business.

Your strategy doesn’t have to fail. Get your managers on board.

Remember, leaders: The view from the C-suite usually looks different from the view on the front line. Too often, leaders charge ahead with a strategy they think is solid, but they fail to engage one of the most important stakeholder groups: managers. To successfully activate a strategy, managers must be a part of the plan. They must understand the “why” and the end goals. If managers don’t have the information they need, they will be a barrier to your strategy’s success.

Are your managers ready to help bring your next strategy to life?

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