The Secret to Getting Your Team to Think More Strategically

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Your employees’ hearts are in the right places. They work hard and truly want to do their best for the company. Unfortunately, they often they take a task-oriented approach when completing their work. As the boss, you know that long-term thinking is the key to lasting success, but how do you ensure strategy is at the forefront of their minds?

It is a shift in mindset, fueled by empowerment. Empowering your team is the secret to getting them to think more strategically. It’s amazing how much employees can achieve if you are more open with them, boost their confidence and give them opportunities to shine.

5 Ways to Empower Your Team

1. Communicate

Uncertainty is often unsettling, especially if it relates to your livelihood. Since nothing in this world is certain – except death and taxes – communication is essential to ensure your employees feel as though they are a valued part of your team, and not just an expendable cog that can be replaced at a moments notice. Share relevant news with your team, making them aware of new endeavors, successes or changes that are expected to take place.

To truly empower your team, share your vision of the company as well as your plan to accomplish these goals. Let them see how their role plays into the bigger picture and how each of their successes lends to the company’s as well. This inclusion will both strengthen your culture and motivate your team to work towards a common goal, even when they are working on individual tasks.

2. Give Everyone a Voice

Create a supportive environment where people feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions. This change goes beyond a simple statement that everyone is safe to share their thoughts without fear of backlash. It is a cultural shift, which can take time to establish.

This can be especially difficult in bureaucratic businesses (with clear hierarchies and chains of command) or in companies with toxic environments. After all, many employees will remain silent if feel as though they lack the authority to speak up, that their options do not matter, or that they or their co-workers will get judged or penalized. Employees need to believe that their ideas and feedback are considered and valued, and confident that there will not be negative consequences to engaging in open and honest communication.

Encourage your staff to start thinking more strategically by challenging them to concentrate on the future. Share company goals and get their feedback. As the ones on the front-line, they may be aware of issues or know of alternate solutions you hadn’t considered. Listen to their thoughts on everything from how today’s trends will impact your business tomorrow to ideas that could make your processes and procedures more efficient.

3. Make It Okay to Fail          

Working on a task-by-task basis may feel safe to your team because they know exactly what is expected of them. Strategic thinking is different, and often more difficult, as there is no way to predict the unknown. Inspire your team to become more strategic by giving them the freedom to fail.

Employees will be much more likely to take risks if they know they will not be penalized if things do not always go as planned. Help them learn from their mistakes. They, your team and the company as a whole will benefit from the experience

4. Stop Micromanaging

Switching to a strategic mentality is a major growth initiative, but your employees will not be able to take this step if you constantly hover over them. If they are unable to complete work their own way, they will not learn. Give them the freedom they need to succeed on their own.

Remember, you do not need to micromanage to be in control. Additionally, the shift away from this management style does not need to be all at once. Work with your team to set goals and pre-established check-points (whether based on time / progress) and stick to the schedule. The check-ins might be more frequent at first, but once you and your team feel more comfortable, loosen the reigns a little more. Simply ensure they know they can come to you if they have questions or concerns along the way.

As you step back, both you and your team will become more empowered. As their mentalities shift and become more focused on strategy, you will enable yourself to do the same. You will be amazed at how much time and mental bandwidth you gain once you remove yourself from the kitty-gritty details of your team’s daily tasks and focus more on your work!

5. Provide the Tools Needed to Succeed

You cannot expect employees to think strategically without the proper resources. Be prepared to provide additional training, programs or equipment needed to help them become more efficient and plan for the future. If you want them to change their way of thinking, you must do your part to support their efforts.

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