How to Lead and Engage Employees in Strategic Organizational Change
Communication is the most crucial ingredient in getting your employees engaged in the company’s strategy execution process. The first step is learning to use the Balanced Scorecard as a tool for strategic organizational change, instead of as a control tool.
The main element to create a Strategy Focused Organization (SFO) is the executive team’s active participation. If the people in charge are not invested in the process, the organizational change will surely fail, the strategy won’t be implemented and it will cost the company the opportunity of executing it and reaping its benefits.
To achieve the organizational transformation, leaders must rid themselves of paradigms and motivate the change by establishing clear objectives. It is also important that the personnel be aware that attaining said objectives requires their total commitment.
The Bacon-and-Eggs Breakfast Metaphor
The process to implement the BSC within the company requires more than the executives’ support; they should be fully committed to and invested in the process.
Robert S. Kaplan compares their level of compromise with the bacon-and-eggs breakfast metaphor. In it, we can see that the hen “contributed” to the breakfast by providing the eggs, however, the pig really committed to it. In other words, executives must give it their all in order to succeed in transforming the organization.
Top-level executives will need to invest time and effort in discussing and shaping their objectives and BSC. If, in addition to this, the Balanced Scorecard is used as a communication tool amongst them, the organization will successfully be able to become a SFO.
Usually, the executive teams are made up of specialists, each one with a different area of expertise, which is why it is sometimes difficult for them to know about other functions within the company. SFOs must transform their single-function executives into multi-functional ones, to develop a true problem-solving team.
Many of the organization’s underlying paradigms and habits must be parted-with to create an executive team capable of leading it through change. A deeply-set functional culture may affect the process and could predispose leaders to disagree with the company’s transformation process into a SFO.
The CEO should use the Balanced Scorecard methodology to create an executive team capable of thinking beyond the mission and strategy of individual business units. Therefore, they should be capable of working as a team to design and implement new company-wide strategies.
Every Man on the Battlefield Can Become a General
Perhaps the most important ingredient in really achieving the strategy’s execution is the CEO’s leadership style.
CEO’s that have successfully implemented their strategy have mentioned that the greatest challenge they faced was communication. They knew that they could not execute the strategy without winning over the hearts and minds of their employees. These leaders were aware of the results they wished to achieve with the strategy, but that accomplishing them depended on their employees finding innovative ways to reach the objectives.
When Kaplan interviewed Bob McCool (Vice-president of Mobil) and Mike Hearty (Vice-president of Chemicals Retail Bank), both of them ex-marines, he found some valuable common practices. Both of these executives recognized that when in combat, senior officers are often far from the battlefield. Especially when in uncertain conditions, the mission depends on front-line soldiers understanding the main strategy and being able to make quick decisions that support it.
The same thing happens within companies. When it comes to actually executing the strategy, top-level executives are usually far away from where the interaction with the customer takes place. Therefore it is fundamental for front-line employees to know the company’s mission and objectives, and must also be able to improvise and work as a team to achieve them.
Marines form their troops so that “every man on the battlefield can become a General”. Executives must take this same approach when training their employees; they must prepare them so that they are also capable of being leaders.
Organizations should find ways to communicate their mission and objectives to all members. They should also encourage their employees to find innovative ways to help the organization be successful. This way they will be invested emotionally in achieving the company’s success.
Communicate vision and strategy
The Balanced Scorecard methodology is most effective when it is used to communicate the company’s vision and strategy, not when it is used to control employees’ actions. Excellent leaders recognize that the greatest challenge when implementing strategic organizational change and new strategies is communicating it to, and aligning, the whole organization.
Successfully using the Balanced Scorecard to transform the organization into a SFO is far more likely when the CEO has a management style that emphasizes the vision, communication and innovation, as well as the employees’ participation and creativity.
Organizational structures where the leader likes to be completely in control should be avoided. Time should be invested in finding the right leader that is capable of creating an atmosphere for change, for attaining the vision and for implementing a governance process that promotes communication, interactive discussions and strategic learning. The leader should learn to communicate with his or her team and obtain the team’s complete commitment to the strategy’s success. When these conditions are met, the company’s transformation will be achieved and it will truly become a SFO.
At TRISSA we can guide you through your organizational change to ensure that it goes as smoothly as possible. Through our comprehensive set of services, we offer our customers the tools and expertise they need to help them clarify their strategy, translate it into operational terms and monitor it to ensure it is implemented effectively.
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Author: Trissa Strategy Consulting
Source: Kaplan, Robert S. "Executive-Team Leadership." Balanced Scorecard Report (2000): 1-5. Online journal.