People want to join the winning team. It is human nature to want to be on the side of success.
People also want to feel they are truly part of that team — to share in the highs and lows, to score against the opposition, and to overcome personal challenges to get there.
In business, as in sport, creating a winning team involves talent, hard work, strategy, and leadership. Each individual brings their own gifts and motivations to the group, but the magic happens when everyone is working toward the same goal, tackling the same problems, and sharing the same vision of success. For this reason, it is vital to have a strong vision of where your business is headed.
In order for teams to connect with this vision, you must break it down into individual elements and share those components with everyone across the organization. Communicating a growth strategy is the vital first step to implementing it.
And yet, a recent survey from Kimble Applications found that while three-quarters of American workers care a great deal about the overall business performance of their employer, only a minority (23 percent) say that they have full insight into how their organizations are actually doing. Most employees don’t know the revenue, forecast, or headcount at their organizations, and almost half don’t trust the little information they do have. Two-thirds don’t believe they have a major impact on business performance.
As a serial entrepreneur, I found those results surprising. In today’s world of digital disruption, fast-moving and dynamic companies with highly-committed and autonomous workers have huge competitive advantages over organizations that keep their employees in the dark.
To help your organization gain that very advantage, follow these three steps to communicate growth strategies with team members:
1. Share the Vision
It is important to convey to all employees what success looks like. At a previous company I founded, instead of looking at the year’s numbers and extrapolating a percentage increase going forward, we did a session with the whole company in which we used the analogy of a time machine. We asked what the company would look like in terms of numbers and revenue in the future, and then we considered what the impact on management structure and culture would be if we imagined that scenario. Then, we worked backward to understand what the evolution path was and what would have to have been achieved to reach the imagined point.
This exercise both informed and communicated what we needed to do immediately if the organization was to have any chance of meeting the long-term target. It was a powerful way to help everyone in the business understand why change had to happen and how their role fit into the shared vision of success.
2. Break the Vision Down
Once the whole team has a shared vision of success, break that vision down numerically, giving each department a target. What does every department need to do to make the vision into reality?
Concentrate the effort on measuring what matters. Don’t get bogged down in administrative and data-gathering tasks that don’t seem productive, as doing so may cause employees to disconnect from the business’s overarching progress. If employees don’t see the point of a task, they will not put much effort into it. If the data gathered is of poor quality, it won’t be easy to interpret or use.
Focus instead on key metrics that clearly connect each department to the overall vision. Make sure these metrics are regularly tracked, up to date, and accurate.
3. Keep Everyone in the Loop
The practice of sharing information constructively ensures employees feel trusted and valued. Where people have insight into the goals and performance of the organization, they will be able to contribute more effectively.
Every department should present at regular meetings about their strategies, challenges, and results, and this information should be readily accessible to all employees.
Be positive and focused during these meetings. Simply telling everybody in the organization that they are falling behind on their targets is not going to create a motivated team. When failures happen, the emphasis should be on uncovering the causes and identifying ways to move forward. Your organization’s culture should encourage everyone to learn from the most expert and successful team members — and it should ensure that everyone has the support they need to perform at the highest level.
Doing these three things is the basis for creating a cohesive team. When all employees throughout the company share in the vision of success, then they are able to contribute at the tops of their games.
Mark Robinson is the cofounder and CMO of Kimble.