Reasons to involve employees in strategic decision making at your startup

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As a founder of a company – who has come up with the idea for the company, and gone through the difficult process to establish it – it is easy to forget the importance of involving employees in thinking through how to handle important strategic decisions. However, while you may have had the initial initiative, your team is critical for its implementation, and will likely have valuable input when making key business decisions. This article explores the primary reasons for engaging your employees in shaping the strategy of your startup.

Benefits of involving employees in strategic decision making

Multiple backgrounds enhance the overall quality of strategic decision making

One of the primary reasons for engaging others in setting the direction for the firm is to draw from their experiences and gain their perspectives on and issues that the company is facing. Employees will have different backgrounds and roles within your startup can provide an important sounding board for suggestions, add suggestions for better ways of implementing, and reduce the likelihood of the firm pursuing fruitless directions.

Increasing commitment to the strategy

Another crucial role of involving employees within the process of forming a strategy is to improve their commitment to it. Being part of coming up with the strategy, and having an influence on key decisions, can really enhance buy-in, reducing potential pushback that you may get in getting people on board with the approach being taken.

Understanding of the strategy can also improve implementation

Beyond increasing the commitment of employees to the strategy, a greater understanding of the approach that the firm is taking can also improve implementation decisions. One of the key roles of strategy is to unify decision-making within lower elements of the firm – ensuring that decisions reinforce one another. Through a greater understanding of the strategy, getting employees involved within the strategy of the firm can help ensure that day-to-day decisions that these employees take – for which customers to target, to which features to focus on – are consistent with the broader direction that the firm is perusing. 

Commitment to the firm

Not only can involving employees in the strategy formation increase commitment to the strategy itself, but it can also enhance the overall commitment to the firm. Everyone wants to feel like their decisions are valued, and getting employees involved with some of the major decisions that the company is taken can help illustrate that they are not just another cog in the wheel, but an important component of setting the overall direction of the company.

This involvement may be particularly true with startups. Ultimately employees at a small firm have specifically sought out the opportunity to work in a small ‘flat’ company, and part of that desire is to be involved in lots of different areas. Getting their involvement in direction setting for the firm can go a long way in providing this diversity of experiences and making employees feel an integral member of the startup.

Building up employee skills – improving employee awareness of future opportunities

A further benefit of involving employees in strategic planning is that it gradually builds up their experiences with decision making and the strategy of the company. This can have long-term benefits, as they may be more attuned to opportunities or the need to adjust the company’s actions to better align with the strategy. This can be useful as the firm grows, and positions take on increased responsibility. It is not uncommon for initial employees to take on critical management positions as the company grows, with prior decision-making experienced helping to set the direction in these roles. 

Summary

It is easy to assume that strategy should not involve lower employees, and indeed companies are not democracies, there is a role of leadership in setting the direction for the company. However, there are also benefits associated with getting others involved and drawing from their experience. It need not be all or nothing – there are ways of getting the involvement of members of the company without devolving ultimate decision making. One opportunity is that employees are potentially well placed to contribute suggestions on areas that the firm is vulnerable to or can improve.

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