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Strategy Implementation

A former baseball manager is said to have lamented, “I managed good, but boy, did they play bad.”

This was also the belief of a frustrated New York retail client, who could not get things accomplished in this complex, multi-unit organization. The fault? It must be with the rank-and-file, the CEO said, who would not comply with direction. “Find out what’s wrong with them and with our hiring selection process,” senior management requested.

The conduit between boardroom decisions and field execution—or lack thereof—comes down to communication. What is being said and explained? How? In person, email, or a meeting? How often? What kind of follow-up is there? Does the plan involve delegation and empowerment? And what does the lower-level employee gain from accomplishment and success? All of these questions were observed, researched and analyzed over a few weeks. Not surprisingly, nothing was “wrong” with most of the employees. In fact, most were actually quite eager to succeed– and to work in an environment in which they were not being blamed for the company’s struggles.

We, together with the client, developed a comprehensive communications strategy and action plan. This plan including multiple points and means of clear and simple messaging, stressing the “why?” Some employees were included from the outset, which allowed the message to be “pre-screened” for obvious flaws and for buy-in. Responsibilities and expected milestones—with specific names, not departments—were widely communicated, and updated weekly—with “wins and losses” published for all to see. Compliance and execution improved immediately; middle managers learned how to manage.

“Is it really that easy?” asked one middle manager.