Achieving results in strategy execution is crucial to its success. By achieving results and making change visible early on in the execution process leaders can show their organization that they are committed to the strategy and that the strategy is sound. By making change visible a strategy can be made more concrete to employees and stakeholders. This shows them that things are really changing. Achieving results motivates employees, increases their commitment to the strategy, makes them proud and gives them a sense of empowerment and mastery.
ACHIEVING VISIBLE RESULTS
Achieving visible results and improvements in performance, especially in the beginning of the strategy execution (quick wins) increases the motivation, performance and commitment of organizational members. Achieving results during the execution builds the confidence of employees and external stakeholders that the strategy is sound and actually works. This is especially important when the organization is in a crisis and short-term results are needed to let organizational members and external stakeholders regain confidence in the organization. Under such circumstances leaders must often develop a radical vision. Such a radical vision must be validated by real results. Successes help to attract and hold followers and legitimate a leader’s authority and thus influence. Successful performance defends the influence of any leader.
Not only is it important to achieve tangible results but also to make change visible to employees and external stakeholders. By making change visible (such as new logo, website, uniforms and offices) leaders and managers can show the organization that they are committed to the strategy and that things are really changing. Achieving results and making change visible has the following positive influences on strategy execution.
Achieving results motivates people. When employees and stakeholders see that the new or adapted strategy leads to visible results, they become more confident and supportive of the strategy. People are more inclined to accept new things when they see that they really work in practice and lead to results. Employees often have a fear for novelty. Employees often perceive a new strategy as threatening to their position and their established way of doing things. However, when the strategy leads to results fear of change can be overcome.
Achieving results makes people proud. Achieving results makes organizational members proud of their work and the organization or department they work for. This increases their motivation which in turn increases their work and strategy execution performance. Especially when people outside of the organization perceive that the organization is achieving results and is successful, this has a very positive effect on organizational members. This makes people very proud. It is very rewarding for organizational participants to perceive that they have progressed personally and as an organization as the result of the new strategy. Achieving of results and the feelings of pride that result from it are even more motivating to employees than financial rewards such as salary. Individuals have need to be proud of their work and want to be recognized for it.
Making change visible makes a strategy concrete. Tangible and visible changes can make an abstract strategy more concrete and thus easier to understand for organizational members. Many organizational members have difficulty understanding abstract business concepts such as a strategy. The more concrete and visible the strategy is made the easier it is to understand for employees. Furthermore, better working conditions, new uniforms and equipment have a positive influence the motivation and performance of employees. Furthermore, when things are visible changing as a result of the new strategy it becomes apparent to employees and stakeholders that top management is committed to the strategy. When employees sense this they tend to become more supportive of the strategy.
Achieving results increases job satisfaction. Herzberg (1974) found that a sense of achievement and personal growth has a positive influence on the motivation and job satisfaction of individuals. People have an inner drive to feel competent and be successful at what they do. My own research also found that when organizational members achieve results during an implementation effort, this tends to increase strategy commitment and job commitment, which in turn increases job and execution performance. Conversely, if employees get the feeling that the strategy implementation effort does not yield any results, they may ignore or even sabotage the effort. A strategy implementation tends to rundown when the people see little results.
Achieving results creates a sense of empowerment and mastery. When individuals, teams and organizations achieve results and become successful this gives them the feeling they are successful too. This may increase their self-confidence and self-esteem, which in turn has a positive influence on their job performance. Achieving results as a teams tends to builds the cohesiveness of a team and increases cooperation between team members. Of course the opposite tends to happen when individuals and teams do not perform well.
THE STRATEGY EXECUTION SERIES
This article is based on my PhD research at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University – one of the top business schools in Europe. Research has shown that most strategies fail in the execution phase. The aim of my research was to understand why strategies succeed or fail. This series of articles gives a comprehensive overview of the best practices that contribute to strategy execution success or failure. Collectively, the best practices allow executives and managers to successfully executie their strategy and achieve the goals of their organization.