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Communicate Your Strategy to Your Team

Originally published: 06.01.18 by Mike Moore


You’ve probably heard — many times — that it’s important to have a vision, and inspire your employees to care about it. When you’re busy trying to make sure that your customers get the service they need, business advice like that might not stick very well. Let’s take a few moments to break it down.

Vision

When we talk about “vision,” we mean an overarching goal, or mission, that’s tied into a value beyond making money. For instance, the Lennox Learning Solutions vision and mission is to provide the best technical, sales, product, and business training in the HVACR industry. Your vision might be something like providing the best comfort and environmental control to customers in your market.

Whether you’re looking to grow, gain market share, increase profitability, or some combination of the above, your employees are vital to achieving those goals. If you didn’t have a vision for what you wanted your company to be and do, you probably wouldn’t be running one. In order to get the best from your team, you need to communicate that vision to them in a way they can relate to, so they can get excited and want to achieve it, too.

Strategy

“Strategy” is how you


execute your vision. It’s the steps you’ll take to achieve your overall goal and carry out your mission. If you’ve been in the industry for a while, it’s likely that you do quite a few things almost by instinct, because you know them so well. You need so many technicians, so many salespeople, so many trucks, such and such a schedule, etc. However, when businesses get to hurdles/milestones such as the $1.5 million revenue mark, or growing beyond 10 or 15 employees, it’s very important to have an overall strategy in place, rather than spending most of your time being tactical (no, we don’t mean multi-pocketed backpacks and molly straps).

It’s also not enough to have the strategy live in your head, or just be communicated to management. You need to make sure that everyone in the company can understand the strategy for your business, and how what they do, their jobs and their decisions, affect the big picture.

Leadership

In business, the terms “leaders” and “managers” are often used interchangeably. The two should go together, but managers are not, by default, leaders. Many people who are in positions of authority in a company know how to get things done, but they may lack the leadership skills to instill an inspiring vision in others. One of those skills is the ability to consistently communicate the vision and strategy to the team.

One major reason to let your whole team in on the strategy you’re all working toward is to retain satisfied, productive employees. If workers lack motivation or commitment to quality, that’s a strong indication of poor leadership at the top. If you are a business owner, consider this question: “If I were an employee, why should I work hard to create wealth for my boss?”

The answer used to be easy: “To keep a job.”

But, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the HVACR Workforce Development Commission estimating an 115,000 technician shortage by 2022, that’s not enough. Skilled and/or experienced workers have their pick of employers, and younger generations are well known to gravitate toward work they find fulfilling. It’s always been true that people will work harder for something they believe in and care about. Now, it’s just more obvious.

Communication

When it comes to communication, the “how” is usually the trickiest part, right? Some people find it easy to share their ideas with others, and to get other people excited about what they want to do. You don’t need the charisma of a motivational speaker to inspire your employees. Much of it comes down to figuring out what motivates them to perform. Money is part of it, yes. But there are other things, and this is one place your core values (principles) come into play.

Keeping homeowners warm and dry, or cool and comfortable, helping families to improve their air quality, and even assisting children and adults who suffer from asthma and allergies, are all benefits that you as an HVACR professional offer to your community. When framed in terms of how your business adds to people’s lives, the strategy you’re sharing suddenly becomes not just a way to earn a paycheck, but work that is satisfying and personally fulfilling.

Operational Excellence

Inspiring vision and good operational practices have to go together. That’s why you’ve got to share your strategy, the “how” of achieving the vision, and not just the vision itself. When employees work together to achieve shared goals, and you have the processes in place to support those goals, this enables the team to get the job done well.

When you talk to your team, whether managers or other employees, talk about the behaviors you want to see, not a dollar amount. Yes, of course you need the business to be profitable. But if you focus on revenue when communicating with people, the quality of the service they provide to your customers may suffer. Pressuring employees based on money will make them feel that their livelihoods are threatened, and this can indirectly encourage them to cut corners in their work. Instead, communicate the things you want each person (or role) to do. The money will follow. If you want technicians to do A, B and C on every service call (and one of these things should be recommending replacements or offering service agreements), train them on those things. You want each contributor to concentrate on doing the best job they can, not necessarily stressing about the bottom line.

Set an Example

Whether you are good at talking with people or not, actions always speak louder than words. In addition to outlining your strategy in weekly or monthly staff meetings, you need to show your employees the strategy, and the values it upholds, through your actions.

Leadership tips:

  • Innovate. No process is perfect; talk with and listen to your employees, to help find creative solutions.  
  • Inspire and motivate others by helping them accomplish what you’re asking them to do.
  • Give others credit, which creates loyalty. A team-centric approach is best for this.
  • Get employees to believe in the vision and understand the strategy by consistently communicating it throughout your organization.
  • Be honest, and conduct yourself with integrity.
  • Develop a culture of hard work and commitment by demonstrating your hard work and commitment.
  • Kindle excitement in employees; celebrate victories when company goals are achieved.
  • Be more than a boss who tells employees what to do. Instead, engage them at every opportunity and you’ll have company-wide followers voluntarily supporting you.

Create buy-in Whether you’re a business owner or a manager in the business, you have employees to help you accomplish the company goals. You can’t achieve those goals on your own, and it’s important to remember that the people in it are the most valuable assets a company has. When everyone in your team understands the overall strategy, and their role in it, they can take ownership of the company goals.

They’re not just working to generate wealth for someone else; they’re working to build something they care about and believe in. That leads to more productive employees, more satisfied customers, and, yes, a more profitable company. Don’t be afraid to let your team in on your plans and roadmap for the business. They need to know where you’re headed, so they can help you get there.

 




About Mike Moore

Mike Moore isn’t just an HVACR expert; he also knows a thing or two about employee training for the HVACR industry. As one of the Lennox Learning Solutions founders and director of training, he is focused on helping HVACR leaders, salespeople and technicians grow their businesses and develop their skills. For additional information, visit lennoxpros.com/hvac-training




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