5 crucial questions for building your internal messaging strategy

Engaging and motivating workers in today’s gig economy can be tough. Follow these tips to keep morale high and talent misalignment low.

Do you have a strategy in place to attract, motivate and retain exceptional workers?

What’s your plan to get the most out of your employees?

A.G. Lafley, former head of Procter & Gamble, puts forth a five-step template on how to think about strategy in your organization. It’s a solid foundation for anyone keen on improving workplace productivity, engagement and morale. He poses five questions to consider:

  • What is your winning aspiration?
  • Where will you play?
  • How will you win?
  • Which capabilities must be in place?
  • What management systems are required?

Those questions transcend industries, organizations, functional groups and roles. You can apply them anywhere, including as a baseline for recruiting.

Perhaps most important, those questions set the context for how your talent strategy should align with your organizational mission and your strategic intent.

Here are some tips to apply these principles in your workplace:

1. What’s your winning aspiration?

Before embarking on any strategic initiative, determine this key answer, which sets the foundation for whether it would align with the broader corporate mission.

That applies to your employees, too. Do your current workers align to the corporate mission? Is the talent you have today ready to meet your business needs of tomorrow? How about potential new hires—are they being vetted through this strategic lens? Which behaviors or skills do you want to encourage?

A full-scale talent assessment should include a SWOT analysis—strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats—to identify areas where employees excel, which can position workers to succeed. Letting employees work to their strengths will boost engagement, morale and productivity. It also informs your answers to Lafley’s second and third strategy questions:

2. Where will you play?

3. How will you win?

A thorough SWOT analysis can shed light on the direction of your company. You’ll find where talent (or cultural) holes or vulnerabilities exist, which you can patch by smart recruiting, skills development and internal training. You’ll also identify which skill sets will keep your company competitive.

4. Which capabilities must be in place?

A surface scan of your talent can give you a general ranking of your internal knowledge, skills and abilities gaps. However, most organizations lack sufficient employee data to make informed decisions. We may know what roles people have held since working with us—and from that we can make assumptions about their skill sets—but what about prior work experience? How about hidden specialty virtuosity?

This lack of internal sleuthing can reduce productivity and engagement. Knowledge gaps can leave you in staffing limbo, trying to decide whether outside hires are necessary, or whether the requisite skills are right under your nose. To prevent confusion and wasted effort, set up an internal skills database as a resource.

5. What management systems are required?

Many organizations have undergone a strategic shift due to the gig economy. Some are dealing with the fallout of mergers and acquisitions, which can cause immense internal upheaval. Either way, the traditional way of doing business is changing dramatically—though many leaders are failing to adapt company cultures accordingly.

To maintain (or create) a healthy culture amid tumult, you must consistently assess cultural liabilities and threats . It’s the people who make a culture thrive or founder—so the onus is leaders to build a resilient, empathetic workplace that caters to employee needs and preferences.

People and performance underpin each of Lafley’s five questions. Your winning aspirations are meaningless if they’re not shared clearly and consistently with all your employees. Effective management is about communicating assiduously companywide, and it requires a thorough plan of action to get your people to buy in and stay engaged.

Curtis L. Odom is president of Stuck on Start Coaching.


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