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Three steps to create team engagement with strategic priorities

Most employees want to feel stimulated by their work and know that their contribution is valued. However, according to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report, only 15% of employees worldwide are engaged in their jobs. This sobering statistic is sadly a bleak reality for many. Wondering how to foster a culture of employee engagement on your team? Kim Bohr,  CEO of The Innovare Group, shares three tips for boosting team engagement that can be actioned today.   

By Kim Bohr

  After years of leading teams and now advising companies across industries on how to align their people and processes to be effective in executing strategic plans, one fact is very clear to me: poor execution will sink strategy every time.  At the heart of failed execution are three realities:  
  1. Too many priorities impact employees’ ability to understand the importance of “this initiative over the next.”
  2. Lack of clear direction on how these directives align with the bigger organizational goals. 
  3. Why their work matters and how it fits into what the executive team says is most important.  
I learned this the hard way from my own experiences leading high-performing teams. As leaders, we are exposed to our strategic plans and key initiatives daily. So frequently, we become desensitized to the change swirling around us.  Our people, on the other hand, are not privy to the same level of frequency or detail. On more than one occasion, I found myself answering questions like, “Why are we doing this again?” What I came to realize was that I wasn’t keeping them current on the journey we were on because I was so comfortable with it. I forgot the importance of reminding my team why their unique skills mattered in the bigger picture of our company goals.   

“If companies are to remain competitive, evolution and reinvention must happen — which means change is inevitable.”

  It’s our responsibility as leaders to bring people along the way and to remind them where we’ve been and where we’re going. To do this I created a simple yet effective approach for leaders to use with teams to remain current and connected. These are three steps you can immediately put to use.
  • The Past Serves a Purpose 
Context is so important in change initiatives. Executing on strategy is about implementing change of some sort, whether it be grounded in a mindset, process, or product. Providing a sense of events from the past that have shaped our company or team preserves the history and connects everyone to the WHY.
  • Our current state and need to evolve
Human instinct is to settle into routine. We are creatures of habit. If companies are to remain competitive, evolution and reinvention must happen — which means change is inevitable. Stating where we are now and why we need to evolve is key to effective execution. Helping people understand why the company needs to embrace change should include details on the challenges being faced or opportunities to be seized. Context is key to minimizing the “Why are we doing this again?” sort of questions.
  • What’s ahead and why their work is important
Business moves fast and it’s not uncommon for people to be heads-down, plugging away. We move from task to task, checking off our to-dos from lengthy lists. If we aren’t intentional in bringing our people along with us, the shift in direction will feel jarring. When we describe where the company is going, the most important piece that can’t be forgotten is including why the work of our teams are important. The more we can tailor the message to each role, the stronger the commitment we get from each person in executing on the key strategic initiatives.  Given how much time and resources are invested in developing strategy and business planning sessions, it would make sense that a similar level of investment would be made in the efforts to execute and operationalize. In order to make all the planning effort worthwhile, attention needs to be given towards developing a solid communication plan. Using a framework like the above allows management to communicate a consistent message that reflects alignment from the executive suite throughout the organization. Perhaps equally important, it’s an inclusive approach that makes change efforts stickier and executing on the plan more likely to succeed.
Kim Bohr

Kim Bohr

Author, speaker, executive advisor, and CEO of The Innovare Group, is best known for diagnosing and repairing organizational and leadership disconnects by working with companies and leaders to help them assess, align and accelerate the strategic priorities that impact talent, execution, and business growth. Kim’s book, Successes, Failures & Lessons Learned, is a 12-week guided career journal designed as a valuable tool for companies to put into their employee's hands to foster accountability and greater ownership over their professional development goals.