There are a lot of smart people in the business world and they come up with plenty of good strategies to grow revenues, to gain market share, to increase productivity and to improve profitability. And most executives also create a plan which details the tactics that need to be executed in order to achieve that strategy. But as we all know, there is a big difference between creating a good strategic plan and executing it effectively.
The strategic plans that are developed generally make sense, but often get derailed by a couple of realities. To begin with, a new strategy often requires a change in perspective and a change in direction. It is essential that everyone on the team makes these shifts. In addition, a sense of urgency is often needed to achieve the objective of the strategy and gain the advantage the strategy offers. This urgency requires a certain amount of intensity and persistence.
And if those realities weren’t challenging enough, the final truth is that the business landscape is perpetually changing. The specifics that make sense at the start of execution may no longer make sense as the plan unfolds. In order to keep things moving forward smoothly and quickly, plans must change and tactics must be modified. New, creative solutions must be developed to overcome obstacles that arise. Attitudes must remain positive in the face of difficulties. With the right team, strategies can be executed, but to be executed effectively, there needs to be one more important piece in place.
One more piece needs to be in place because the enemy of effective execution is a workforce that isn’t very engaged. A poorly engaged workforce won’t be as flexible as it needs to be. A workforce that isn’t engaged won’t be especially productive, nor will it be as persistent as it needs to be. Weak engagement causes people to focus on obstacles rather than solutions and it dampens the creative spark needed to solve the problems that arise. The enemy of effective execution is weak engagement.
How do you elevate employee engagement? Employee engagement can be improved, but can’t be improved overnight. Improved engagement is something that needs to be attained before the need for execution exists. It’s analogous to digging a well for water. The best time to dig a well is before you need the water. Additionally, engagement is not something you “do” to employees. Instead, it’s the result of effective leadership and an effective culture.
If you’ve hired correctly, people are already engaged when they come to work for you. They don’t need to “become engaged”. The fact is that the key to high employee engagement is to avoid the disengagement that occurs when leaders and managers treat people poorly, when they don’t respect and value people, and when they treat people like “things” rather than like people. Conversely, effective leadership and culture will keep a team engaged and will bring out the best in people.
Strategies can be effectively executed, but it takes an engaged workforce, focus, persistence, flexibility, creativity, and a desire to succeed. If you’d like help evaluating the current state of engagement within your workforce or would like help setting the stage for effectively executing your strategies, please give us a call: 503-928-7685.