SOURCE: Root Inc.

Root Inc.

February 05, 2014 08:15 ET

New Study Uncovers Top Business Challenges and Priorities for Executives in 2014

Customer Experience, Employee Engagement, Deploying Strategies, and Skill Development for Leaders and Managers Are Guiding Organizational Focus

SYLVANIA, OH--(Marketwired - Feb 5, 2014) - Root Inc., the strategy execution consulting company, today announced the findings of a survey identifying the biggest organizational challenges and priorities across the business, as well as within specific functional areas, for 2014. The top challenges for leaders and businesses include improving the customer experience, driving higher levels of employee engagement, helping employees understand company strategy, as well as developing leadership or manager competencies.

"Changing market conditions or new strategic initiatives keep most organizations in a constant state of flux," said Rich Berens, president of Root Inc. "One of the most interesting findings is that across multiple functions, organizations are focused on many of the same things because they recognize how important they are to the business, but the dots are often not connected well across functions. As a result, execution suffers."

Survey Findings
The biggest challenges facing executives in 2014 include:

  • Customer Experience Must Improve: 55% of respondents were focused on improving customer experience, and 23% cite "customer satisfaction" as a skill employees should have/strengthen in the next five years.
  • New Strategy Execution Needs Employee Engagement: 48% of respondents want to drive higher levels of employee engagement, and 44% want to help employees understand new strategies and/or changes going on in the company.
  • Manager Empowerment is Vital to Success: 47% are focused on developing leadership or manager competence.

The top priorities facing specific business functions or departments for 2014 are similar, but include some subtle differences:

  • Enhancing the customer experience (75%)
  • Deploying new strategies or initiatives (72%)
  • Successfully communicating company strategy (71%)
  • Growing manager skills (70%)

Among the function-specific priorities:

  • HR/Training: The top priority is growing manager skills followed by increasing employee engagement.
  • Ops/Strategy: The top priority is enhancing the customer experience followed by sustaining strategy over the long term.
  • Marketing: The top priority is enhancing the customer experience followed by a focus on deploying new strategies or initiatives.
  • Communications: The top priority is deploying new strategies or initiatives and then enhancing the customer experience.

The study also revealed how organizations focus their energies when rolling out new strategies internally, typically led by company leaders and influencers:

  • Leadership Team to Manager: 56% say a strategy is rolled out via one-on-one conversations with key managers or influencers within the company.
  • Corporate Presentation: 56% develop and disseminate presentations to the company.
  • Town Hall: 52% conduct town hall and Q&A meetings.
  • Development Programs: 52% institute manager/leadership development programs to support new strategy execution.
  • Roundtables: 46% conduct small roundtable discussions to communicate a new strategy or initiative.
  • Videos: 35% say new corporate initiatives and messages are communicated through pre-recorded videos and movies.
  • Training: 30% say their organization uses digital interactive communications solutions like videos, games, and intranets to execute strategies across the organization. 22% develop customized, consultant-based training programs for employees. 11% purchase "boxed" training solutions to help build employee skills for a new strategy or initiative.
  • Outside Consultants: 19% hire strategy execution consultants as facilitators for additional perspective before a strategy rollout

Added Berens, "Many of the challenges and priorities identified in the survey require leaders to convey new strategies or initiatives to the rest of the business. Interestingly, most people are still defaulting to the traditional PowerPoint presentation or town hall meetings. While those sometimes serve a purpose, leaders need to look at methods that aren't just a 'tell' to the employees with whom they are trying to connect. They need to convey information in a way that creates intellectual and emotional commitment and clarity on how people can connect to the larger goals of the company. That's when they'll see real success."

The online survey analyzed the responses of 333 U.S.-based full-time and part-time employees across a variety of industries and departments, all at a manager or higher level with decision-making authority. The survey was conducted by Kelton Global, a leading global insights firm.

About Root
Root is a strategy execution company that helps organizations engage their people as the catalyst and driver for change. Root does this by connecting people with complex strategies using creative and visual methods, transformative insights, and consulting know-how on strategy deployment and sustainment. With more than 20 years of capabilities developed from partnering with the world's largest businesses, Root has created a proven framework that consistently achieves clarity, ownership, and results. Based in Sylvania, Ohio, Root has been recognized as a Great Place to Work for eight consecutive years. Visit for more information or follow Root on Twitter: @therootinc.

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