No matter how great your strategy, creating a line of sight across the business for all stakeholders comes to a grinding halt if your managers can’t interpret and translate that strategy at the team and individual level.

Odds are – most of your managers can’t do this today! As a result, managers become a “cork” in the execution of strategy. To engage people in the game plan, managers need to interpret and translate new strategic actions.

Think of an organization as an orchestra.  When a conductor is needed, leadership often picks the best instrumentalist – the head violinist, for example.  However, despite her talent as a violinist, she is ill prepared to be the conductor.  One assignment is about being an expert in a specific area, and the other is about blending the talents of everyone into a high-performing team.  Most former head violinists can’t interpret and translate the new music that must be played strategically!

Thus creates the manager conundrum.  They ask, “How can I engage people in the strategy by translating it effectively?” and “How can I lead by being an expert in one area while getting my team to perform together?”  Their plight seems difficult at best and hopeless at worst.

Managers can be either the cork or catalyst to generating results.  To successfully interpret and translate new strategy to their team in a way that makes sense to them, all managers must know four things:

  • Know the business. From the marketplace to core processes to strategic direction.
  • Know their role. It’s not all about projects and process, but about people — starting with themselves.
  • Know how to connect their teams to the business. The hands-on, step-by-step job that shows people the “why” and “how” of their jobs.
  • Know how to deliver results through their teams. The basics of effective working relationships, clear expectations, coaching and developing, and following up to ensure success.

For a strategy to succeed, managers must interpret and translate the music into something people can actually play.

How effective are your managers at interpreting your company strategy?

December 14, 2011


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