The crucial role of communication for strategic success

Image showing different forms of communication to emphasise the importance of communication for strategic success

Directors have spent 12 months developing their new corporate strategy but somehow it doesn’t seem to be having any impact. The strategy has even been internally published. However, little change is taking place. So, why do so many strategic plans end up collecting dust in desk drawers or in deleted email folders?

Whilst devising a well-thought-out strategy is essential, it can still fall short without proper communication. Change is a collaborative endeavour that requires understanding and collaboration between various departments and teams. Effective communication is the most important factor in breaking down departmental silos and engaging stakeholders around a common vision.

When introducing a new strategy with the involvement of all stakeholders, leadership should proactively convey the ‘why’ behind it. This provides a clear direction for employees and sets the tone for the organisation’s commitment.

Effective communications strategy

We frequently experience projects in which strategies are developed in isolation with limited stakeholder involvement. Management then share them poorly with all the perils of one-way communication. This leads to resistance with employees feeling undervalued and uninvolved.

It is important to remember that communication involves listening as well as telling. The old saying that we have two ears and one mouth so that we listen twice as much as we talk is clearly relevant.

If you want the strategy to succeed, then step one is to involve not only management and staff, but ALL stakeholders. Develop a two-way communication strategy to encourage open dialogue. This boosts employee morale and engagement through enabling them to ask questions, share concerns, and provide feedback. Done properly, this empowers employees to voice their opinions and provide value. When employees feel valued, they are more motivated to work towards the strategy’s success.

The Three C’s of Communication – Clear, Concise, Consistent

Effective communication should be clear, concise, and consistent.

Communicate Clearly

Firstly, know your audience. Employees, managers, and external stakeholders have varying levels of interest and information needs. Therefore, avoid jargon and do not assume the recipient understands what you mean. Secondly, be clear on the key message before communicating it. This helps focus in on what to say and deliver the message with clarity. Thirdly, tailor your message accordingly to different stakeholder groups. Different messages require different methods.

Clear communication reassures investors that the organisation is on track. It helps manage customer expectations. It also demonstrates the organisation’s commitment to delivering value.

Communicate Concisely

In a world awash with information, brevity is a precious commodity. It reduces the risk of misinterpretation, minimises confusion, and accelerates decision-making. Communicating objectives and plans succinctly ensures everyone understands their role and the overarching goals, without getting lost in irrelevant and verbose information.

Concise communication fosters alignment and commitment. It allows leaders to articulate their vision and inspire teams with a clear sense of purpose. This, in turn, drives motivation and a shared dedication to achieving strategic objectives.

Communicate Consistently

Habits do not change overnight. Consistently delivering a message makes it difficult to forget. Change, therefore, will not come about without continued repetition of the message. Establish a consistent rhythm of communication to provide updates on progress, achievements, and challenges. This keeps everyone informed and engaged throughout the implementation process. This creates a sense of achievement and inspires individuals to remain committed to the strategy.

How important is communication for strategic success, really?

Of course, most important of all is a successful strategic plan. But, we cannot ignore the importance of communication for strategic success. A well thought out communication strategy is an integral part of the plan and its implementation. It leads to greater employee commitment and motivation, better feedback, improved efficiency and can help in overcoming resistance.

Communication isn’t just a complementary element of strategy implementation. It is the glue that holds the entire process together.

Rich Downey, Consultant, Hague Consulting Ltd. © Hague Consulting Ltd 2023.