“How many consultants does it take to change a lightbulb”? It’s a joke I’m sure you have heard many times! But, similar to this, “how many strategies does an organisation need to be successful?” Just think about it, organisations often have a stream of different strategies for different divisions, departments, markets, scenarios and so on. This multiple range of strategies in itself can create complexity, conflict and possibly indifference which leads to varying levels of disengagement.

Research from a range of sources shows us, that one of the key reasons for people being disengaged is not knowing, and more importantly not understanding, the strategy of their business. Beyond that, engagement drops even further if people are not clear about how their actual role has an impact on the strategy.

Having a clear strategy and knowing how you support it, even if in a small way is a really important part of ensuring your people are engaged. This really comes to life in the story that you have probably heard time and time again: During a visit to the NASA space centre in 1962, President John F. Kennedy noticed a janitor carrying a broom. He interrupted his tour, walked over to the man and said, “Hi, I’m Jack Kennedy. What are you doing?” He replied “Well, Mr. President, “I’m helping put a man on the moon.” This is a great example of someone knowing what they do and why. Absolutely everybody has a role to play in ensuring the espoused business strategy becomes the real one.

So consider, in your organisation, how clear is the key strategy? Also think about, if people are getting mixed messages from all the different strategies that are taking place at the same time. Any organisation should only have one clear, well known, reinforced business strategy.

In our recent Tap’d Solutions Forum, where we discussed engagement and how organisations can raise it, Fiona Ryland, Head of HR for Compass Group delivered an excellent presentation on pragmatic engagement. Her organisation through internal dialogue had finally landed on one key strategy that over arched their whole business: the people strategy IS the business strategy. This, we have heard before through Richard Branson’s well known quote “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients”. this makes sense and seems logical, but is often preached rather than practised. Every decision made in the organisation should have a consideration for the impact on its staff. That is not to say that all decisions will be liked, but at minimum an understanding of how it will raise or lower engagement should be considered.

Without a focus on people and making sure they feel stretched yet cared for, with effective and participative leadership, most strategies are doomed for failure.

So please drop your multiple strategies, simplify them to the max and consider as an organisation if your people strategy should really be THE strategy, that drives your organisation forward. We know this works, as our team have been in organisations that have put this into place.

If you would like to discuss with us our experience in creating a people first business strategy, simply reach out.