Ask your employees.
"There must be alignment at the top levels, all middle managers need to be on board and you've got to reach out and touch every employee, ask them what they think, and then listen to what they say," argue Josh Leibner and Gershon Mader, co-authors of the book The Power of Strategic Commitment: Achieving Extraordinary Results Through TOTAL Alignment and Engagement.
"Very little good can happen when strategic development is only done by the top management of a company or an organization. Everyone in the company needs to be involved in strategic conversations," says Leibner.
"You can demonstrate that you are committed to your people by asking for their feedback and opinions and then incorporating and promoting their ideas so that they become part of the strategic solution," adds Mader.
The two advise that it's crucial to ask employees for their feedback on more than just the short-term tactical problems. The biggest breakthroughs to total commitment and complete alignment always come when the employees have deep conversations with top management on the bigger picture and longer-term issues.
The biggest problems occur when leaders micromanage and create an environment of compliance. "People simply cease acting as partners when they are attacked. They are forced to protect their own world, and a huge amount of their energy just goes into how to survive and keep their boss off their back," says Mader.
To counteract this, Leibner and Mader suggest that executives and managers ask their staff to think about what they would do if they were put in charge of a particular situation, department or organization.
"You've got to get past the myth of consensus," says Leibner. "Consensus is not commitment. People agree to 'live with' something, but that doesn't mean they would die for it. Often, they simply want to get the meeting over with and return to work or go home."
Instead, the authors suggest, ask your staff what they would start, stop or continue. Then discuss the responses and the consequences as a group so people can realize the implications of a decision and learn to think strategically at a level or two above their current job. "Let them take a few steps in your shoes. You'll be more than pleasantly surprised, you are likely to be amazed," Leibner says.
Here is Leibner and Mader's "Cheat Sheet of Strategic Thinking Dos and Don'ts":
- Actively ask for input from all departments and levels
- Promote and incorporate others' ideas
- Ask your staff what they would start, stop or continue in your position
- Routinely balance out your meetings by discussing both strategic and tactical issues
- Make strategic development an exclusive club limited to the higher-ups
- Stifle strategic thinking by not being open to and acting on others' feedback
- Try and maintain control by micromanaging
- Solely focus on and encourage tactical thinking in meetings
The Power of Strategic Commitment is available at Amazon.com and other booksellers.
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