September 24, 2012 – Last week, we discussed the opportunities and challenges with evolving from an accountable culture to a culture of execution. As we revealed, the secret to moving to an execution culture is to push strategy down to the front lines. Holding your management team accountable for results is important – which is the focus of accountable cultures – but getting everyone in the organization involved in strategy implementation elevates execution and creates a distinct business advantage. However, pushing strategy to the front lines is no easy task. For that reason, I offer five tips for accelerating your evolution to a culture of execution. Call it a strategic planning template for developing an execution culture.
Execution Culture Tip #1: Intertwine mission, vision, and strategy. Take the necessary steps to ensure that every employee knows how he or she helps fulfill the mission, achieve the vision, and execute one or more strategies through his or her daily job. How? Have every employee complete a personalized mission, vision, strategy statement by having them complete a commitment card that contains the following phrase:
I will help my company fulfill its mission, achieve its vision, and execute its strategy by doing the following every day as part of my job:
Put the completed commitment card in the employee’s personnel file and use it as part of your performance management and evaluation process. This is an excellent example of strategic planning.
Execution Culture Tip #2: Communicate your strategy regularly. Use the 7×7 method; that is, communicate your strategy seven times, seven different ways. Once you have successfully deployed the 7×7 method, deploy it again. In other words, communicate strategy every chance you get. The more your employees know about your core strategy, the more they will be able to make effective job-related decisions that can positively impact your strategy.
Execution Culture Tip #3: Include strategy discussion in employee orientation. What better place to orient your new employees to your company’s strategy than in orientation itself? And while new hires may not be in a position to complete the mission, vision, strategy commitment card, they should, at least, be put in a position to think hard about it. Then, within their first 90 days of employment, have each of them complete their pledge.
Execution Culture Tip #4: Reward employees who internalize strategy within their daily jobs. Do you want to change employee behavior and, therefore, transform corporate culture? If so, then create reward and recognition programs that exemplify those front-line employees who demonstrate a positive impact on the organization’s strategy. Once others see these top-level employees being honored, their own behavior will naturally change, too. Before long, you will have a workforce driving strategy execution every day at the front lines.
Execution Culture Tip #5: Post dashboards and scorecards in every department and every unit. The Harvard Business Review has reported substantial improvements for companies that use dashboards. Make these visual strategy indicators equally focused on company objectives and department/unit objectives. There is the old adage, “You don’t get what you expect. You get what you inspect.” Monitor performance and post it for all to see and performance will eventually change, helping to create a true culture of execution.
By implementing these five tips, you will involve all employees in the execution of strategy and the achievement of organizational objectives. What is strategic planning if you don’t develop within your employees a sense of purpose and meaning, urgency to get the right things done the right way, and a greater level of satisfaction for their jobs. Finally, you will develop within your organization an execution culture that will enable you to accelerate business results.
Next week: Creating a Culture of Innovation