Companies devote endless time communicating strategy to their employees—but only a minority take it in, according to research by the University of Technology in Sydney. The researchers identified 20 companies with clearly articulated strategies and asked their employees to select their employer’s strategy from six possible options. Just 29% of employees answered correctly.

This goes some way to explaining why a staggering 87% of companies fail to execute on their strategy each year.

However well a company is able to articulate its vision, if it does a poor job of communicating it to its employees, how can its employees be expected to make the correct decisions in terms of aligning the work they do with the Company’s desired outcomes?

Misalignment slows down companies. It doesn’t matter how effective or performant a workforce is—if they are moving in the wrong direction, the chances are the company will fail to meet its objectives. With a clear understanding of strategic priorities, employees are more likely to move quickly and efficiently towards helping an organization achieve its goals.

As command-and-control management styles have become a relic of the past, the importance of collaboration, openness and autonomy have sky-rocketed in high performing organizations. In terms of goal setting, this translates to a shift from cascading goals from one management level down to the next, to an environment where employees have much more autonomy in setting their goals, but have clear line of sight to company objectives, enabling them to align their goals appropriately with the company’s vision.

Companies that do this well benefit in a number of ways; With all employees pulling together in the right direction, the company will move faster and be more responsive to change. But furthermore, if employees feel they have more autonomy over the work they do and also have a clear understanding of how what they do contributes to the organization’s objectives, their engagement with the company is more likely to soar, impacting company profits favourably.


Simon Bates is CEO of Workteam, an HR-based Goal Management System for businesses of all sizes with a focus on growing employee engagement. Visit http://workte.am to find out how it can benefit your organization.