While the magnitude of the change varies in different situations, driving change is often the primary job of a leader.
Communicating Your Message
First, you have to create mental energy among your employees so that they enthusiastically embrace the transformation. It often takes effort and time. Most effective way to communicate is in person, which may involve travel. Strategy communication is an important leadership responsibility.
Following the initial vision communication, you will have to reinforce it. That requires repeated and clear follow ups on your initial message, which will help employees internalize the message. They are often preoccupied with numerous operational tasks and don’t always take the time to stop and reflect.
Most effective reinforcement happens when your internal communication is accompanied by external. If employees read in the newspapers that the business is improving, they will get motivated and believe in credibility of your message. If, on the other hand, they read the opposite, that the company is servicing customers inadequately or the product is of poor quality, the employees will not believe you.
The best approach is to lead is by being a role model – by example – because your moves and communication are seen by everyone in your organization. Employees will be looking for congruency between what you say and what you do, most often giving more weight to the latter. This congruency will determine whether the employees believe in your story and whether they put credibility in you.
Identify other role models in your organization and spotlighting their success. Sharing success stories helps clarify the meaning of the transformation and strengthens belief that it will actually work. You can map your managers on a matrix, with “business performance” on vertical axis and “role-modeling the desired behavior” on the horizontal. Those in the top-right box (high performance, desired behavior) are your company’s stars. Publicly highlight their achievements and reward them for taking the risk or/and initiatives. For example, a significant bonus or a promotion could make others in the company talk about for a long time. This could be a talented, committed sales person overlooked by others. Check with your top customers directly to find out who in your Sales organization they like working with the most. This will show others in the company that that talented and determined people could rise through the ranks.
Those in the bottom-left box (low performance, undesired behavior) are those who perhaps need to be motivated, developed or, if none of those work, be let go.
Then you have the managers in the box of “high performance, undesired behavior.” You could send a very powerful message to other team members that role-modeling and teamwork matter if you take clear actions to improve these managers’ behavior or remove them all together, even if they are talented, because clashing and inability to work together often have more detrimental effects.
Initiatives with a significant financial or symbolic value require the CEO’s personal involvement for maximum impact. There may be several beneficial effects, among them ensuring that important decisions are made quickly – without sacrificing the value of collective debate –and sowing the seeds of a culture of candor and decisiveness.
Short-term vs. Long-term Focus
You have to ensure an appropriate balance between near-term profit initiatives, those that focus on delivering performance today, and longer-term strategic initiatives, those that build the capacity to deliver future results. To make it more effective, you can hold separate review meetings. Shorter term initiatives would typically focus on operational improvement, tactical strategies, productivity, wage and asset management. Longer-term – on revenue and volume growth through market share, new channels and marketing initiatives, talent and capability management, new products and acquisitions.