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Strategic thinking for managers


Turning their vision into a reality is a common difficulty companies face in strategic planning. You will need more than a great strategy and implementation to transform your company into the one you envision. One of the most important things you can do besides formulating and implementing great strategies is to align everyone in the company to be part of the implementing process. It will be much easier for your management team to inspire and push in the direction you intend by aligning everyone. Without it, the forward motion will be a struggle every bit of the way. To ensure that your employees are aligned with company strategies, you must take five basic steps.
1. For good strategic thinking about their work, employees must have the conceptual tools required. Employees must be capable of making decisions with a strategic impact in order to be aligned with the company's strategy. A strategy that calls for anything less treats people as machines. Every employee must have an understanding of how their work fits into the success of the company, however it does mean that every employee needs to be a strategic thinker. Employees should understand enough of the basics that they are able to see how the strategy is going to affect them such as an increase in job security and also increase their chances of pay increases in the future. It will be much more difficult to buy-in and have the support of the strategy from an employee.

2. The strategy must be fully understood by all employees. Employees must have conceptual tools to understand the strategy. Good strategy requires focus, which is why this is mostly necessary. The way you hire, train, compensate and retain your employees in key strategic work areas with your strategies is very important.
3. Strategic alignment must be built around the structure of the company. The structure of the company can greatly help or hinder strategic alignment. This can happen in several ways. One example that is very common in larger companies is to find a "silo effect". This is when a company lacks efficiency and flexibility in activities which require cross-departmental cooperation, yet are very effective vertically within a department or division.
4. Individual jobs, especially those in critical areas, the strategy must be reflected in the structure. How you hire, train, compensate and retain the employees you have in key strategic work areas with your strategies is very important. For example, if you target commodity customers, you will definitely want all these things to be reflected in your commodity orientation. Your commodity outlook can be reflected in your hiring if you want to hire people that drive cost up or down because of their skills. You may reflect you want highly qualified people and because of their productivity costs will be kept down or you want less qualified people who will keep your costs down because they are simply less to pay. If you have a specialty strategy, you will want to be looking for people who add value to your product or service. Less expensive people who are less qualified may have a difficult time understanding certain specialty marketplaces. Matching employees and their jobs to strategy is no doubt a big payoff.
5. Buy-in to the strategy is a must have. You will not have alignment if you have an employee who thinks the strategy is not good and just won't buy into the strategy. Unless people come up with the idea themselves, achieving buy-in can be tough. It is hard to get people to feel good about a strategy that might not always be in their best interest.

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