Strategy – it’s a term used extensively within business operations, and for good reason. It helps us to determine, plan, and communicate what we need to do in order to accomplish a vision. It provides us with the big picture on how we are going to achieve a desired result and it is crucial to success within the company and its functional areas. Corporate strategy, marketing strategy, sales strategy and operations strategy are all common within business. However, there is often very little, if any, effort attributed to one of the most important strategies an organization can develop and implement – Influence Strategy.
Over the years I have been involved with several companies who put a fair amount of time and effort into developing key business strategies. As a management group, we meet, discuss, determine, and plan what our results need to be in order to meet our objectives for the next one to three years. After all the meetings and planning retreats, we sit back, pat ourselves on the back for a job well done and can’t wait to begin the process of “rolling out” the action plans that supports our hard work in developing the vision for the organization. Because of the effort we put into these planning sessions, we are able to create a fool-proof plan on how to accomplish these results to make our plan successful. So why do we often see that no matter what or how much we plan as a management group it is so difficult to get the results we expected? Why are people having such a hard time “buying-in” to the changes we are proposing? It all seemed so simple, we involved the right people in management, set aside the appropriate time, and put forth a great effort, what went wrong?
The issue….identifying the gaps in our current results compared to our desired results is only part of the equation that affects performance. As leaders within the company, we also need to determine how our people must behave in order to accomplish these results. We need to identify the gaps in behaviours, not just results. We need to recognize this causal link between results and behaviour and, in order to be effective, develop strategies around this simple yet important approach to influencing performance. Without an influence strategy involving the behaviours of people, we may fail to achieve our company objectives, despite our best efforts in our strategic planning process.
Are we talking about changing how a person behaves? Is that even possible? Ask that question to the top behavioural experts and they will answer, yes, provided you have developed and implemented the correct influence strategy. Granted, an influence strategy geared towards people’s behaviours may not automatically guarantee performance results, as the old saying goes, the only thing guaranteed in life is death and taxes. However, given that people, and more importantly the performance of people, are a major part of success in almost every strategic plan developed within business, it only makes sense that we commit the time and effort to develop a strategy on influencing the behaviours of people. Instead of expecting staff buy-in we do well to plan on influencing buy-in, why leave the execution of all our hard work to chance. Ask yourself, do the current behaviours of our staff support our ability to reach our strategic objectives? If not, what can we, as leaders, do to change that? These are the types of questions that need to be asked as part of developing our strategic plans. The answer to these two simple questions will almost certainly force you to develop an Influence Strategy.
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