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Encouraging staff to be aligned with the top values and priorities of the organisation is a key responsibility for bosses, especially if they wish to boost their employee engagement levels.
But what happens when senior employees themselves are unsure of their firm’s top strategies?
A new survey by London Business School, only a third of senior managers can correctly identify their firms’ top three priorities.
The survey of 11,000 senior executives, leaders and managers from more than 400 companies, was designed by London Business School Teaching Fellow, Rebecca Homkes and Don Sull, a senior lecturer at MIT Sloan School of Management.
“For firms to execute a strategy well, that strategy must be clearly communicated and understood, throughout the organisation,” Homkes stated.
The survey added that even with five tries, on average, only around 50% could list the same one priority.
The result was only slightly more than half for those involved in developing the strategy.
Explaining the findings of the survey, Homkes mentioned that “when it comes to relying on teams in other departments or business units, senior managers trust their colleagues to deliver all of the time or less than 10% of the time.”
She added that this leads to endemic mistrust and over-commitment.
Senior managers, who cannot rely on others, tend to do the job themselves or let their own commitments to others slip, which only compounds the problem.
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“It’s little wonder that over-worked executives stretched too thinly across tasks that often don’t even need to be within their remit, lose sight of the firm’s priorities,” Homkes said.
This persistent issue results in a huge amount of duplication, inefficiencies and perhaps most damaging, passive commitments.
“It’s not always malice or ill-will that lead to cross-department (horizontal) commitments breaking down,” Homkes explained.
The survey added some firms have taken bold moves to buck the trend and rid themselves of the ‘never-say-no’ culture and faux-commitments that go un-kept.
These include having “no” cards, which encourage employees to say no a few times a year so that when they do say yes, colleagues can rely on them to deliver.
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