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Are your staff making the right decisions inline with your business strategy?

June 2, 2015

In my last 2 blogs I talked about getting staff to understand your business strategy and also creating goals and targets to help staff make the business strategy happen.

In this blog I will talk about the day to day decisions and actions that staff take – you, the boss can’t tell them exactly what to do! Also you can’t have a goal or target for everything they do or situation they find themselves in.

Business Strategy

It’s these every day interactions that drive the business but can be the hardest to change or influence from a strategic point of view. Imagine the thousands of decisions and actions your staff take each day to get business done, for example:

  • A Sales Rep might spend a bit longer preparing for a sales visit by researching the prospect’s business, or;

  • A Supervisor takes a few minutes to walk across the shopfloor to congratulate a member of staff for passing their driving test, or;

  • A Despatch Operator puts an extra piece of bubble wrap round a package so they feel confident that the product will arrive safe and sound at the customer.

All these type of micro-decisions can have a positive or negative impact on the business: that extra sale, the motivated member of staff, the satisfied customer. But as a boss you can’t be involved in those decisions. Ok you’ve explained the strategy for the business and engaged staff in how it will work but in those micro-decision moments do you think the staff ask themselves…

“Does this contribute to the achievement of the business strategy?”

I would suggest probably not.

So how as the boss can you “steer” them to make the right decision?

The answer…

Be clear on the culture and values of the business – what I call the “way we do things around here”.

So to use a very public example, most people have a perception of the level and quality of service at a Starbucks coffee shop. Those Baristas work to the Starbucks way of doing things and seem to have sufficient discretion to be sensible, proactive and courteous. The Starbucks website is full of references to their culture and values. Culture and values are key to staff induction and maintaining staff engagement.

Another example organisation, this time in the software industry, is Buffer, a social media software business. The Buffer Culture is regularly viewed, copied and referred to. At Buffer the business owners have put tremendous effort into being clear about the culture and values – they produced a document (see link above) and worked to develop it with the staff. They made it real or (as I like to say) “that’s the way we work around here”.

The whole subject of culture and values is enormous so here are a few tips to let your values improve those micro-decisions:

  • Use opportunities like staff meetings, 121 meetings, informal conversations etc to talk about “how we do things around here” – what makes us as a business tick;

  • Use stories that relate to how the values and strategy of the business influence those micro-decisions;

  • Commit to a business development project that creates a shared view of “how we do things around here”. This could be a set of values and a complete description of the business culture. What it can’t be is a framed piece of paper in the reception!

So just to sum up, to achieve everything set out in your business strategy & plan you need to make sure that Your Employees Are On The Same Page As Your Business Plan, that They Understand Your Company’s Strategy and that they live and breathe your culture & values.

If you can relate to what I’m saying but need some clarity about where your business is at, then take our short assessment to find out, it will give you some real information & insights and hopefully won’t be too much of a surprise!