Insights & Summary: The Strategy-Focused Organization

Steps such as linking everyone’s goals to the company strategy (which is precisely what our Objectives and Key Results, or OKRs, achieve) lead organizations to effective execution. We share our insights from one of the best books on achieving business goals below.

Translate Your Strategy

Teams cannot execute on company strategy if they do not understand it. Most companies do not effectively communicate their strategy to teams. In fact, HBR research shows 95% of employees are unaware of or do not understand their organization’s strategy. Before you can link your strategy with teams’ objectives, you must first translate it into tangible terms.

Traditionally, companies lacked a standard formula for developing a strategy which could then be translated into tangible terms for employees. Now, executives use tools like The One Page Strategic Plan to identify and align the company’s mission and vision with its resources.

The authors say a clear, focused strategy should then be translated into the following four perspectives:

  1. Financial: Your strategy for risk, profitability, and growth from shareholders’ perspective
  2. Customer: Your unique value proposition from customers’ perspective
  3. Internal Business Processes: The company’s most important strategic priorities which inform goals at the top, department, team, and employee level
  4. Learning & Growth: The priorities that support company development and innovation

These perspectives set the foundation for aligning your teams with your strategy.

Align Teams with Your Strategy

You must align teams with your strategy to ensure effective management and execution. Link your company strategy to employee goals by establishing company goals and objectives (the most important priorities identified in your strategy). These are the priorities all employees will work towards through their department, team, and individual objectives. The authors state that sharing objectives is essential to business alignment.

OKRs achieve alignment because they work using shared goals. They connect everyone to your top company goals to increase performance and drive better results. The Objective is the goal teams work toward on an individual, team, and company level, while the Key Result reflects the outcome of the Objective’s accomplishment and follows SMART goal formula, usually incorporating a metric to track progress. Since their objectives contribute to company priorities, teams are always aligned with and focused on the company strategy.

Make Strategy an Everyday Priority

Historically companies did not align teams to their strategy. However, now executives know that failure to link team objectives to company strategy results in repetitive tasks which have no measurable impact on results. To create value for the company, employees must work towards objectives that are aligned with the company. You cannot merely set aligned objectives. You must also ensure managers are using ongoing performance management to make strategy an everyday priority.

Managers must routinely track their teams’ performance and provide feedback consistently. They should use weekly one-on-one meetings, also called check-ins, to discuss progress on objectives and exchange feedback. This practice is called the most effective management tactic of all time because it clarifies priorities so teams and individuals stay focused on what’s most important to the organization. You can also use one-on-one meetings to provide actionable, specific feedback for teams to improve performance.

The authors also state that performance should be linked to compensation. To inspire high performance among teams, you must enforce accountability. Teams must know precisely how their performance is being evaluated, including what is expected of them. For this reason, managers must develop and maintain ongoing feedback loops, which we discuss below.

Make Strategy an Ongoing Process

The authors state that you must close the strategy loop – or create an ongoing feedback loop between managers and teams – to make strategy an ongoing process.

With ongoing feedback loops, you will regularly have discussions about performance, so teams know where they need to improve and where they are excelling. This feedback is critical to engaging teams. It also facilitates a performance-driven culture. Moreover, when you hold formal reviews and ultimately make compensation decisions, there will be no surprises because you have been discussing performance with teams on a continual basis.

What else? What were some other findings from The Strategy-Focused Organization you found helpful?

Do you manage a company or teams (either as a CEO, a senior executive, a middle manager or even a front-line manager)? Do you set and track objectives? Does aligning employee performance to business goals matter, and are you responsible for driving results? If so, please check out a live demo of Atiim OKR & Goals Management Software and we’d love to hear what you think about it. Thank you!

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