Public Comment on HBR’s “Eight Ways to Communicate Your Strategy More Effectively”


Eight Ways to Communicate Your Strategy More Effectively

by Georgia Everse

A frustrated CEO recently shared with me that her employees had lost their edge. They were internally focused, their speed-to-market was down, and they couldn’t find a good balance between serving customers well while making healthy margins. The result was slow progress against the company strategy and an inability to profitably deliver on the value proposition. She had attempted to motivate employees and be clear about the strategy, but she was falling short and was looking for answers on what to do next. The solution in many cases is to overhaul internal communications strategies in order to convince employees of the authenticity, importance, and relevance of their company’s purpose and strategic goals. Here are just a few communications approaches that will help you effectively reach your employees and encourage behaviors that advance your strategy and improve your results.

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26 Responses

  1. Jack Yoest says:

    This article is required reading for my graduate students at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.

  2. Kyle Helfrich says:

    Hi Professor,

    There were a few things that I appreciated from this article. I specifically liked the emphasis on showing enthusiasm. The biggest form of communication that I see people lack is enthusiasm. People are too concerned with looking “professional” or thinking that they are some how above showing enthusiasm. The fact of the matter is that you cannot lead without enthusiasm, and you especially can’t lead with fake enthusiasm. In order to be a good leader one must teach, coach, mentor and lead in a way that is authentic them. If they try and be something that they are not then everyone will see right through them. The best way to be authentic is to be enthusiastic towards the things you care about. If you have a true care towards something then it should be easy to be enthusiastic, and if you’re enthusiastic everyone in your business will be too.

  3. Colin K says:

    I found this article to be very interesting, and I thought Georgia offers eight very great tips of advice. I really liked all the tips but especially number one. The more concise your communication is, the more employees can understand it. Having purpose behind your communication is key as well. I think one way to make employees more committed is by trying to find their intrinsic motivations. If you know what inspires the people around you, then you can tap into that emotion with your communication. I also think approach number three is important. It is good to constantly change the way you communicate, and I personally really like the idea of storytelling. Story telling creates a positive environment that can promote better understanding. I believe all these approaches can be very useful, but it starts by knowing your employees and knowing what drives them.

  4. Elizabeth Cabral says:

    I really enjoyed reading the article. It brought up some great ideas about communication and how to communicate within an organization. I liked what was said about the “discipline of a framework.” I believe that training and education on policies allow more transparency and shows intentionality within the company. This leads to more employee buy-in and overall success of the general policy or strategy. Education will also enable them to understand how to do their job and apply their new understanding and skills to their day-to-day tasks. It also helps to have conversations with key team members to allow them to own particular projects or assignments. It is also essential to keep people informed and remind people about the new processes and policies after the change. It is essential to understand the relationship between communicating changes and successful implementation within a company or organization. I also found the “’real person’ hat” and using storytelling fascinating. Authentic messaging allows employees to feel as though the company cares about their employees. The story will enable people to better relate to the company, create a dialogue, and allow the employees to understand better what is happening and how they relate to the bigger picture and goals of the company.

  5. Matthew Maddatu says:

    One of my main takeaways that I received from this article is the concept of building operations based on market and customer insights. Something that has been helpful in managing my department’s change process is simplifying our language around our changes so that our employees more effectively receive and communicate the messaging. We have found that our staff have been able to internalize our vision and develop their own authentic ideas that advance our operations closer to the vision. A key component of our vision is helping the people we serve to become positively engaged in the community, so it is our hope that we can continue improving our operations by utilizing assessment in order to better fulfill our department’s goals.

  6. Chris Resetar says:

    Reading this post I kept thinking about one of the ways in which I find that my companies message is so effectively communicated to their employees. This article mentions that it is critical to make sure your employees understand their purpose and why their business is better than the competition. Where I work, on of our mantras is that our competitors are not our enemy but more like a rival who push us to do better. While they don’t idolize our competition the success of our competitors is frequently cited as motivation for some of the changes we are seeking as an organization. In other words, management often uses our competition to show why we are making the changes that we make.

    In prior companies I rarely found that the competition was given even a modicum of respect. We often heard the lines like we are better than they are or we crushed the competition last month. I sometimes think that employees aren’t given enough credit for looking at the larger picture and pretending like everything is perfect when it isn’t only serves to underestimate the intelligence of their employees.

    To be clear, I am not suggesting that we have to idolized or deify our competition but rather acknowledge their success and use it as a motivator of change internally. I have seen how well employees respond to this form of motivation because after all, most of us like to win but most of us also understand that if someone tells us how great we are at something that we finished last in we likely didn’t do a great job.

  7. Richelle A Torres says:

    This article gave a lot of takeaways on how to effectively communicate with employees. Communication is very important to help management and employees understand each other and make sure that the message is sent and received accurately. Communication should not be just a one-way talking, rather, management should encourage employees to participate in the discourse. I believe, one thing that I missed in this article is the power of ‘listening’ as one of the important communication skills one must have. Employees feel more valued and appreciated when they know that management pays attention to what they are saying, respects their opinions and responds to them appropriately.

  8. Victoria Barros says:

    I really appreciated this article as it gave an overview of key points and elements that will help overall communications internally with your organization’s employees. Communication needs to be genuine and authentic, the author highlights that you have to remember that your audience is not only external but internal. If your internal audience can see the authenticity in your messaging, they will see the value in the overall company. In my own experience, I found the most authentic voice comes from the leader and if the leader can express that to their employees about the vision and goals there will be continued trust. The employees are kept in building the company brand so when you invest in them they will then in turn invest in the companies shared values.

  9. Holly Regan says:

    Out of the eight strategies discussed in the “Eight Ways to Communicate Your Strategy More Effectively” article, strategy #3 stood out to me most. In any setting, I think that Inspiring, Educating and Reinforcing are three necessary steps to communicating to a group of people or employees. Whether it be a team, a class or a group in the workplace, these three steps will help a head of the group to successfully communicate. Inspiring a group isn’t always about motivation, but about making the message important to the group. Why should they care about what you are saying? Inspiring them to feel the same way about the initiative you are implementing that you do is the first step of convincing the team that they should be all in. Educating is just as important. The team must understand exactly how and why this strategy is going to work in relation to the company and to the customers. A manager must be sure that the initiative is implemented correctly to ensure it is maximized and benefits everyone involved as much as possible. Lastly, continuing to remind and reinforce the strategy and its importance will “serve to immerse employees in important content and give them the knowledge to confidently connect to the strategy” (HBR).

  10. Kelli Doherty says:

    Effective communication is extremely important in any job setting. If employees do not know what values they are working for becasue they are not communciated properly it creates an enviroment where they are unable to be successful. The tips listed can help anyone with this struggle or just with people that are looking to grow their communcation skills with their company and employees. Out of the eight given to us I think the most important one to me is “number 5 Put on your “real person” hat.”. Often times companies do not understand that behind their customers are real people and lives outside of what they are trying to sell. If you can speak openly to people outside of the “cooperate speak” they will relate and appreciate what to you’re trying to do.

  11. Nolan Lundholm says:

    Eight Ways to Communicate Your Strategy More Effectively captured an authenticity of corporate realness by laying down the framework of Inspire, Educate, Reinforce. Inspiring change should feel exciting, and more importantly the method of conveying this change should be relatable. Ways number five and six for example greatly focus on the personality side of leadership, and the ways of better connecting with a group. Ultimately, the best method of communication is engaging, and carries relevance among the audience. Without this the message will fall short, and the any meaning of change will be lost in communication.

  12. Alex Kincaid says:

    The take away from this article is to keep internal communication constant and transparent. These are 8 helpful hints, but the overall takeaway, is communicate internally in a transparent, open, and frequent manner that aligns with the company’s vision. It is easy to forget within an organization you are not just selling yourself to the customers, but to the employees as well, and to get their buy in internal communication and vision has to be inspiring and effective. To me, numbers 4 and 5 are what make the difference. Be a real person, and use other people to communicate the message. As managers or CEO’s we can’t get lost in hierarchical structure when it comes to communication. We must stay open, and we must stay transparent to continue to get buy-in.

  13. NS says:

    I thought the Inspire, Educate, Reinforce Framework was very interesting and one that I had not conceptualized before. Change cannot happen or be sustained when the team is not engaged. Without the intent to inspire, words will not go far. Once there is buy-in and the team has heard your story, then there is an opportunity to share more details and logistics. If the team has not locked in, then sharing details will be a waste of time. People need to know why they’re doing something and how it’s going to be a worthwhile investment.

    Reinforcement will help keep people on track. It’s also important that the manager/leader is disciplined and maintains a workspace that inspires, educates, and reinforces.

  14. DENNIS ayitey GABAH says:

    The article was excellent to read as i was able to learn alot from it. The ways to communicate your strategy effectively was definitely spot on. keep the message simple but deep in meaning, you cant even write it better. As an employee, no one wants a long tedious speech about why we changing, give boring reasons why were changing and the level of expectations from the company. when a message is kept short and meaning it gets people to buy into whatever your selling. another strategy that was helpful to read was the inspire one. Everyone always needs a purpose to do something and in this case or scenario, inspiring people is one of them. As managers, it is always essential to inspire your employees if you want to get the best out of them. communication is the key in every aspect of leading an organizational change. effective communications always leads to success and lack of effective communication will be the downfall of any changes meant to happen. last but not least, the ceo communicating with the employees his/herself and taking of the ceo hat and putting on the real person hat is every essential. it always mean alot to employees when the ceo communicates with them personally and makes them feel like they are apart of something big. overall the article was very important to read as i gain more insight on ways to communicate strategies more effectively.

  15. Solomon Banti says:

    An excellent article on how to communicate effectively and get the job done. Knowing what is not working in their organizations and why are those perfect plans failed to make across the employees’ department should be the primary ideas of CEOs to turn the tide and effectively reach their employees and encourage behaviors that advance the organization’s strategy and improve results. When the CEO’s intentions are confounded when it gets to the employees, the result is slow progress against company strategy and an inability to deliver on the value proposition profitably. Miscommunication restrained organizations from achieving what they had imagined. The communication approaches suggested in the article are designed to bridge the gap between the “them and us” mentality, to create a culture and value that fosters ground for change, growth, and opportunity. As long as organizations believe they are marching for the same vision, where we are on the organizational chart will be our job specification, something we are very good at. This sets the tone on who we are as a company or small community and our job specification to make visions reality. Visions don’t become a reality through magic; it takes effective communications between all involved, discipline, Consistency, and hard work.

  16. Kelsey Perretta says:

    I think the biggest takeaway from being successful in a team is communication and being upfront. Being transparent with your employees as well as staying with the times will prove for a successful team dynamic. By communicating clearly and effectively, the team will gain knowledge and value. In my personal experience, I think that I do well with uofront and straight forward communication. I am not the type of person that needs sugarcoating or beating around the bush. I would rather someone tell me straight up that I am not performing a task properly or I am not doing what I am supposed to be doing.
    Another big takeaway from this article is that different companies and different people require different types of communication styles. Not everyone responds well to the same type of communication. Some do well with constant communication while others do well with being given all the tasks at once and are able to complete them on their own and with ease. If managers create good relationships with all their employees, they will be able to alter their communication styles with each person and therefore create a better overall team environment and experience more success.

  17. William Duke says:

    Although many of the top companies differ in size, product, and overall brand, they share many core values which allow them to hold the top spots year in and year out. These companies communicate unbelievably with the entirety of their staff, and move as one cohesive unit. Instead of various branches of a company moving one step at time, each level of the company understands what the other is doing. As noted in the article, there are a variety of methods to communicate effectively with a team. The first part which I greatly enjoyed and relate to is the concept of inspiring, educating, and reinforcing key concepts with members of a team. First, a team must be inspired to go out of their way to not only create personal gain, but ensure the company is growing as well. Without motivation or inspiration, employees will not be operating at their true potential. Educating employees can involve a variety of information which leads to the betterment of the company and an increase in overall awareness. Reinforcement allows information to be passed from team to team and even to the next generation of talent. Lastly, I greatly enjoyed the concept of “telling a story” when communicating. Storytelling captures people’s attention and provides a more interesting means of conveying information.

  18. Jess Murtagh says:

    The most successful managers and leaders are the ones who are able to communicate effectively to their team of employees. When productivity falls short from employees, it is up to the manager to reinforce the company vision and objectives. When times like these arise, manager may find themselves over communicating to staff. As stated in this article, “The solution in many cases is to overhaul internal communication strategies in order to convenience employees of the authenticity, importance, and relevance of their company’s purpose and strategic goals.” Instead of flooding staff with internal lengthy emails, effective middle managers should adjust their communication strategies.

    The two main strategies listed that I believe would be the most beneficial for me as a middle manager are making messages simple, yet deeper in meaning as well as, putting on your “real person” hat. First, employees appreciate managers getting into the deeper meaning of WHY they are doing something. The WHY should be the CORE of all managerial communication, because without it, employees have no vision or inspiration for their work.

    In addition to explaining the deeper meaning, putting on a “real person” hat makes you much more relatable as a manager in the workplace, thus creating a healthy work climate and culture. Employees will feel more comfortable providing feedback and producing results for a manager they feel they have more of a person-to-person connection with, rather than a boss-employee relationship.

    As managers, we must dig deeper as to how we can get our words and messages across to employees most effectively rather than simply writing it in an email.

  19. Marybeth Osazuwa says:

    After reading this public comment I am beyond excited to write about this topic due to the fact that I enjoy finding ways to communicate effectively within the workplace. The article presented many important strategies that will allow individuals to communicate effectively within the workplace environment and organizations. When communicating within the workplace, it is truly important to providing a clear and concise message that individuals can grasp and understand. As the article states, within the workplace and organizations it is always important to provide messages that inspire individuals within the organization, educate the team regarding the topic discussed, and lastly reinforce the message while making sure it’s executed by all individuals. Throughout the article, I truly liked reading where it stated to be genuine instead of keeping the corporate mentality. I feel as though many employers or organizational leaders tend to forget to show authenticity because it allows employees to see the struggles the leaders may face, and feel as though it is normal for them as well. Therefore, after reading this article I truly gained much knowledge, perspective, and insight, and I firmly believe that communicating effectively within the workplace is important at all times. Developing strategies that work effectively will be beneficial to all employers and employees.

  20. Allyson Flores says:

    I agree with Georgia Everse “Eight Ways to Communicate Your Strategy More Effectively” to connect with your organization using the techniques defined. To communicate, first the organization must have an effective vision that serves as a guide to the future ideal (Palmer, 2017). Once your vision is set, then the eight techniques will be more natural to use because your passion is backed by the vision. The eight ways are like developing your vision. The statements should be simple that is defined by leadership. Leadership will have the right words to say and make bold statements that have a deeper meaning. Integrating your vision will also make your communication more inclusive of customer insights and behavior. By inspiring, educating, and reinforcing your communication, you are also effectively monitoring and adjusting your vision. It keeps your message aligned with your vision. The remaining ways Everse suggests make your statements more personable so that the vision can be reached equally to all people. This is the added touch to connect to your followers. Being “real” and using technology sets you apart from other leaders. Followers will engage and invest in your strategy. The work that they do will be inspired by talk from someone in the middle between upper and lower management. Oftentimes, disconnect between leaders and followers create confusion, anger, frustration by those who contribute the most labor to your strategy. Bridging the gap is helpful and will get buy-in from followers.

    Palmer, I., Dunford, R., Buchanan, D. “Managing Organizational Change, A Multiple Perspectives Approach” Third Edition. McGraw Hill Education. 2017. Pages 182-183.

  21. Nick Loney says:

    As I read this article, I keep thinking about the word consistency. All the points in the article are valid and true but need to be consistent in their application. This article would be read by every by every manager, at a company I run, as guideline on how to think and engage during a project. Consistency kept coming up because every point that the author laid out had to do with engagement with the employees directly and indirectly. Some of the points that I know I have had frustrations with in the past is the idea of a manager not being present. In my first job out of college, I worked directly for the CEO. He was a smart man but not a confrontational man. We would have kick offs for proposals or other evdevours our company was about to partake on. They were initially productive but the momentum from these events were shorts lived because there was no consistency into the approach that was there at the beginning. If you can’t start out the with the basic message, like the article states, then the rest of the steps are irrelevant. A manager needs to be engaged from the jump all the way to the end. Not being able to think outside the box and engage with your employees will not only waste time and money but hurt morale for future projects that the company wants to conduct.

  22. Danielle Waldschmidt says:

    Communication is vital for the success of a company. The pessimistic part of me thinks it is rarely done well. More likely, the problems are easy to spot when communication is lacking. It is a challenge to get the right message out.
    This article provides eight suggestions to improve communication. One item that really stuck out to me was understanding the different messages aren’t created equally. Everse offers a framework of inspire, educate and reinforce to ensure the message is received. This sets the stage for why the change is needed, provides education and reinforces the message. Ensuring the message is reinforced can be a challenge. I think this involves more than repeating the message. It requires others to be on board with the message and be communicating the same message. It requires the message to be stated differently.
    The idea of lets others tell their story opened my eyes. I frequently like to tell stories, but as this article outlined having others tell their stories is more effective. It tells the story from another perspective, allowing for greater buy-in to the change.
    Even if things are going well, having good communication is important for a variety of reasons. This article provides good starting points to consider to ensure the right communication is occurring.

  23. Caitlin Foley says:

    I found this article very valuable as a coach because the way you communicate to your athletes is critical to developing a good relationship. The first bullet point is simple in concept but much harder than a CEO or leader would think. Like the article articulates, it’s important for messaging to reflect the core values of an organization, but the average employee may not be as familiar with these values as leaders would like. This is why communication is important because how you communicate with your employees can be indicative of how you value them and what is at the core of the organization. Another thing the article touches on that I think is important is the fact that leaders need to be visible. It’s important to communicate with followers, and I think how often they communicate is also very important. Employees and followers need to feel like their CEO is a part of their culture, and by being more visible and actively communicating with their employees, leaders and CEOs can do that.

  24. DT says:

    I enjoyed reading this article and have bookmarked it for future reference. As a small business owner, I would like to improve communications with our staff as we continue to grow so it was good to learn about these eight communications approaches, especially #1 (keep the message simple, but deep in meaning), #5 (put on your “real person” hat), and #8 (make the necessary investment). I co-own my business with my sister, and #1 made me think about how we can and should do a better job of articulating our deeper meaning to our staff if we want to achieve continued growth and success. Regarding #5, due to the nature of our work, we communicate with our staff mostly through text or email. Once in a while, we will talk with them via video or in person, and we always end up having great conversations and exchanging valuable information. These interactions have always been positive, and I realize that we should carve out more time for these conversations. As for #8, I thought that the writer made a great case for investing in internal communication campaigns; I am curious to learn how to figure out what to invest per employee and think that an example would have been helpful in explaining this concept.

  25. Vicente Garcia says:

    I really enjoyed this article about more effectively communicating your strategy and found it relevant to my personal and professional context. I recently ran a donation drive at my workplace and was able to employ some of tactics suggested. After two weeks of collecting donations at each of our offices using special bins with flyers and a QR code giving anyone access to donate directly to Anna’s House, I wanted to engage my workplace with the story of what we did as a community through the drive, but also I didn’t want to write a super long email. We got 20 bags-worth of donated goods (and then some) and I tied that to why it matters by writing, “Our goodwill sustains others, not an invisible, indefinite source of funds. Goodwill is about choosing to will the good of others whether or not we see the fruit of it. Our generosity is helping these people make important life choices to get back on their feet during their time at Anna’s House.” Doing so tied it into a deeper meaning for what we accomplish day to day as a team within our community. For future drives, my goal is to try possibly get our message onto our company Facebook page to take advantage of 21st century media. Next time I also aim to “put on my real person hatl” in my communication about the drive by sharing more about my personal experience of it and role in it.

  26. Emily Sullivan says:

    I really enjoyed this article. I found the topic to be very interesting. I think that communicating your strategy to your employees is a very important topic to cover and read about especially in business and in the professional world. I like the idea of using the framework of the discipline. Inspire, Educate, and reinforce I think are very important parts of communicating a strategy especially as a leader. Getting your message across is so important when you want a task to be communicated effectively. Also inspiring people to use your stragetgy makes it a lot easier to get it across. Reinforcing it by using it yourself.

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