Are you flying blind?

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Like a broken record, 9 Strategic say it again and again, “Position is the foundation of all revenue generating activity.” But, at the risk of mixing metaphors, it seems as if the message is falling on deaf ears.

A recent survey by Leadership Management Australasia (LMA), claimed that Marketing Business Position Imagewhilst 83 percent of leaders and managers said they had a business plan, only 66 percent of employees felt they knew what it was.  This is troubling in two aspects:

1. Employees have no idea what they are working towards, or why they are doing what they do

Articulating your business position, goals and objectives clearly, consistently and repeatedly to staff is vital to them executing the plan successfully. Otherwise, they are flying blind with no understanding of how their role fits into the larger organisation.

When we talk to CEOs who have a business and positioning strategy, they often tell us that they have communicated it to their team, but they just don’t ‘get it’.  The best way to ensure your entire business is on the same page is to:

1. Make it a part of your recruitment and induction process

Make some aspects of your business strategy and all aspects of your positioning strategy part of your recruitment and induction process.  Communicating your goals, and your new employee’s role in achieving them, will ensure that they are best positioned to help your business succeed.  Similarly, communicating your positioning strategy to all new employees ensures they have the tools to act consistently with your culture from day one.

2. Make it an event

Whenever you announce goals, direction or strategy make it an event and give your team something to take away with them.  Whether it is an employee retreat or a morning tea, communicating in a deliberate way at a dedicated event makes it very difficult for your team to ignore you.

3. Consistency, consistency, consistency

“Sustaining an audience is hard,” Bruce Springsteen once said. “It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose, and of action over a long period of time.” As The Boss so eloquently states, the key to leading and managing your employees is consistency.  This means understanding your vision and goals, and basing all your decisions on these vision and goals.  When the signposts remain consistent it is difficult for your employees to ignore them.

4. Openly Invite Feedback

Once you have established a two-way conversation with your employees, it is important to undertake both structured and unstructured feedback.  We suggest that CEOs undertake yearly structured surveys of their staff, inviting them to comment on all facets of their business.  Similarly, we encourage CEOs to schedule employee briefings throughout the financial year and invite staff to participate and ask questions.

5. Address the “What’s in it for me?” Factor

As I alluded to earlier, simply communicating the company’s vision and goals is not enough.  Your employees need you to articulate how it applies to them.  The roles played by a COO and a cadet may be vastly different, but they both have a contribution to make to the overall vision and goals.  Helping your staff understand the role they play in the bigger picture will make a significant impact on their productivity and will ensure they really listen to what you have to say.

2. 17% of businesses are operating without a business plan

The second and most troubling fact uncovered by the LMA survey is that 17% of businesses are operating without a business position or strategy.  In other words, the business itself is flying blind.  You’ve heard it before and I will say it again: a failure to plan is a plan to fail.  Operating without a clearly defined business and positioning strategy has a number of knock-on effects to your business:

  • An uncertain, or incorrect, market: How can you be sure you are operating in the right market, if you don’t know who you are and where you want to be?
  • Difficulty recruiting and retaining the right staff: It is impossible to recruit the right people and ensure they do the best job, if you can’t articulate who you are and what you want to achieve.
  • Difficulty sourcing and maintaining business partnerships: You will be unable to attract the right channel partners if you cannot communicate what your business bring to the relationship, and what you want it to achieve.
  • Inability to measure: How can you set and measure specific objectives if you have no goal?
  • Inability to create new business: A strategy is essential to creating new business. It tells you what kind of business you want, and tells you when and what you need to do in order to attract it.
  • Inconsistent customer experience: In most cases, a lack of strategy will translate to the customer experience – meaning it could ultimately impact sales.
  • Inability to focus on your core product/services:  How can your business focus on a core product/ service if you can’t define what makes you different to your competitors?  And, equally important, how can you be sure you are charging the right price?
  • Poor or inconsistent client service: Without a clearly articulated and executed strategy, setting and managing customer service expectations becomes, at best, ad hoc.
  • Decreased business valuation: Along with your client list, a business plan, strategy and position are key elements of adding value to your business.
  • Lost revenue: All of these will all inevitably translate into lost tactical and strategic revenue.

Getting started on creating a business and positioning strategy is not easy.  It takes time, research and courage from the business’s leadership to make it work.  If you would like help getting started, contact Nicola Dent-Votier to learn about how 9 Strategic uses the Insights process to set the foundations for creating strategy that sticks.