How to Know if We Have More Strategic Implementation Issues Than We Think

Key Takeaways
Unengaged team members & poor communication with customers are indicators that your strategic implementation plan is wonky.
Strategic implementation is key to business performance.

Business strategy is the backbone of your company. It’s the strategic plan directing your company to the pathway of success and achieving your goals.

Well, that certainly sounds simple, right?


Constructing an effective business strategy plan is one thing. Implementing it though? That’s an entirely different, major step.

You’ve got to execute the implementation well to ensure the company’s competitive status in the market, continue its ventures, satisfy your customers, and achieve your goals.

In this post, we’ll break it down so you can spot these top signs of wonky implementation and straighten them out:

  1. The company isn’t growing anymore.
  2. Your employees aren’t responding to directives.
  3. Customers and partners don’t want to work with you.
  4. Competitors are catching up.
  5. Qualified employees are scarce.
  6. Growth has stalled and there’s no progress in the recent reports.
  7. You’re having difficulty making decisions.

But first, coffee.

Fill up that mug. We’re gonna get into your strategic planning must-haves first.

Your strategic planning must-haves

We’ve got to make sure your have the necessary resources, manpower, and systems in place that will conform to the strategies set forth in your plan.

So why is this important?

Because this is the deal-breaker in business. These courses of action will tell if the business plan is effective or not, and by not, we mean the plan is failing.

Sound easy? Not gonna lie. It’s kind of hard.

But the things which are hard, are most worth doing.

Executing business strategies is another big challenge to conquer.

What makes the implementation so difficult? Where do problems come from? What are the key performance indicators (KPIs)? Is it the company’s method, manpower, or the systems?

Strategic issues are conflicts or problems without apparent solutions. Because if there is an obvious solution, the question is, why wasn’t it addressed in the first place?

Identifying all the issues with strategy execution in strategic management exposes the strategy’s cracks and helps you determine the next course of action.

So, let’s discuss the major signs pointing to any underlying cracks in your strategic implementation process.

1.  The company isn’t growing

A new business venture needs to meet the goals and objectives of its key stakeholders.

Growth is the most important factor to measure a business’s success. A growing company means it’s expanding in multiple ways.

Although there’s no single way to measure growth, we have different points where we can determine if the company is becoming stagnant or isn’t growing anymore.

  • Profits and losses reports are not changing.
  • Office tasks are repetitive.
  • You’re not getting new customers.

We may think that it’s easy to spot these signs. But finding out which parts of the strategic plans are the root causes of these issues is the real challenge.

Maybe, the strategic planning process is too slow responding to current changes in the marketplace. Technology, disasters, political conflicts, and pandemics are factors that may not be addressed in strategic implementation.

Still, as we see nowadays, these issues affect businesses in ways we haven’t witnessed before.

The bottom line is, you can’t just react. You have to anticipate. As such, a successful strategy implementation process must be action-oriented.

2.  Employees aren’t responding to directives

A plan is just a plan if the team responsible don't support successful implementation.

If the strategic plan is the backbone of the business, then, employees are the most critical resources. So, helping them engage in the company and reach their full potential can be rewarding for both the employer and the employee.

But at the same time, it can be disappointing if employees don’t carry out their given instructions or accomplish their specific tasks. This is a sign pointing to something wrong in the strategic implementation plan.

Top reasons why employees become unresponsive

The main reasons employees underperform and become unresponsive are:

  • They don’t know what is expected from them
  • The company’s environment doesn’t empower team effort
  • The tasks delegated to employees don’t align with their skills or level of capability
  • They don’t feel they are contributing to the company, so they don’t feel appreciated.

Solving this issue requires reviewing the key components in implementation planning and highlighting how employees can participate in the company as decision makers.

As a result, employees and team members involved will be empowered. They’ll understand how their efforts contribute directly to the company’s progress — while also allowing them to grow personally and financially.

3. Customers and partners don’t want to work with you

Strategic objectives are key to ensuring buy in from clients and other stakeholders.

Customers are the lifeblood of the business. They provide the cash that keeps the brand alive. So, their needs are the foundation of the product or service we offer and propel the company’s further development.

But how do you know if customers aren’t satisfied?

  • They rarely or never complain because they’re tired of doing so.
  • They don’t care about special offers.
  • They rely on the contract conditions because they don’t trust customer service anymore.

To ensure success, you have to understand your customers’ concerns and let them know you hear them and will respond. You’ve got to review your business plan and present an immediate solution to the customer’s complaints.

On the other hand, business partners might need to give you additional access to funding, resources, innovation, and knowledge to help you reach more customers successfully. But what if your business partners don’t want to work with you anymore?

That often indicates strategic plan issues.

Some telltale signs a business partnership is about to end:

  • Collapse in communication
  • Business partner is no longer contributing
  • Frequent conflicting business decisions
  • Changes in partner’s goals

You can’t ignore these warning signs. You must have an open discussion with your wavering partner and let them voice their concerns without judgment. It’s also a good idea to seek outside help or a third party to mediate and resolve the problems.

4.  Competitors are catching up or overtaking your brand in the market

Day-to-day performance management includes staying ahead of the competition.

Keeping your thumb on the pulse of your business competitors is a significant factor in your brand’s ultimate success.

Aside from the current competition you have, new contenders are constantly entering the market. And that’s why it’s important to know where you stand amongst the competition.

So, how do you know if your competitors are catching up or overtaking your brand?

While comparing revenue is the easiest way to know who’s leading the pack, there are other signs indicating if competitors are pulling in more marketshare. And by extension, your clientele:

  • Clients or customers are querying about new products
  • Customers’ feedback is changing
  • You’re missing opportunities for innovation
  • The availability of resources has changed

Good strategic planning with an emphasis on the key initiatives of the sales and marketing teams will prevent your business from drowning in the competition. Know your competitors, what they’re up to, and what they’re offering in the marketplace.

Competing is about retaining and attracting new customers. Knowing your target customers and how their expectations are changing will help you adjust the strategic plan so the product or service you offer remains appealing.

Check the latest craze in social media since it’s the easiest way to assess the market.

5.  You can’t find qualified employees

Adequate resources - both financial resources and human resources - are needed for project success.

Qualified employees are needed to execute the strategic plan successfully.

Although the unemployment rate has gone down, believe it or not, finding qualified employees is still one of the biggest struggles in the business industry.  The reasons are the demand for qualified employees surpasses the supply, salary, location of the company, changes in the needs of the employees, and a flawed hiring process.

How can we solve these problems and get all the necessary skills in the company from new hires? Consider an organizational change and review the business plan. Fix each of the issues mentioned above.

Here are some of the ways to overcome this particular business challenge:

  • Build the company’s reputation.
  • Don’t settle for less. Make use of the interview process to assess and screen the qualifications of each applicant.
  • Adapt to the needs of employees, and allow employees to work remotely if possible.
  • Add cool, unique perks and benefits.
  • Build a consistent and organized hiring process.

Button up your hiring process with our FREE Hiring Toolkit.

6.  Growth has stalled and there’s no clear way forward

A successfully implemented performance management system will be visible in the company's metrics.

Businesses, whether big or small, often experience rapid growth at first. But then growth significantly slows for some reason.

When we focus solely on selling products or services, we often forget the importance of strategy and innovation. As a result, the business growth plateaus.

So, what are the most common culprits behind business growth slowdown?

  • A weak or outdated strategic policy plan
  • Flawed pricing technique
  • Leadership has become too complacent
  • You’re playing it safe

Tossing money aggressively at the problems won’t solve them. It’s time to go back to the strategic plan and see what can be fixed.

Here are some ways to address this problem and give the business a new direction:

  • Re-evaluate the strategy plan and update it so it’s relevant to market changes.
  • Don’t focus on lowering the prices. Instead, try adding value to the product or service.
  • Don’t blend in. Stand out in a crowded market.
  • Bring back the enthusiasm, reignite the passion, and make tough organizational decisions.

As soon as the problems are resolved, start moving forward and shift direction to invigorate new life into the business.

7.  You’re struggling with decision making

Using a SWOT analysis can help identify the strategic initiatives needed from upper management.

An effective strategic implementation boils down to the ability of the team to make fast and precise decisions about which course of actions the organization should take.

But if the team struggles to make these critical decisions, it can impede the company’s growth and survival.

Why is making decisions quickly and precisely so difficult?


The fear of making the wrong decision and suffering negative consequences stops the team from doing it in the first place. In some cases, the organization may not have the sufficient resources or the right tools to help the team comprehend and handle a significant problem. Also, the team making the big decisions may not know enough about the problem, and so, can’t come up with a good solution.

No matter how complicated or straightforward the decisions are, we can do something to outline the fundamentals for great-decision making practice.

Here are some:

  • Empower the team and encourage them to learn from failures.
  • Seek an outside expert’s help if necessary.
  • Be transparent with your team.

Honesty, and fostering a company culture of growth and learning prevents people from shying away from making the necessary, tough decisions.


When these not-so-obvious pitfalls in business are detected early, it’s much easier to solve them or avoid them altogether.

Strategic planning and successful implementation and execution aren’t a leap of faith. They’re an outcome of a thorough, critical study and implementation of sound, fundamental business practices.

So, your action steps:

  • Be brave enough to pivot and change direction
  • Keep an eye on your competitors and revamp your offerings to exceed consumer expectations
  • Seek outside, expert help if necessary
  • Button up your hiring processes
  • Foster a company culture of honesty, growth, and learning
  • Empower your team members to learn from their mistakes
  • Communicate effectively with customers and business partners

Feel like something is off with your business processes, but aren’t sure what it is? Take our FREE agency growth assessment quiz to see where things are falling short. We’ll send you a bundle of resources tailored to scaling your agency.

Let’s do it!

Business operations consultant Juliana Marulanda
Juliana Marulanda - ScaleTime Founder
Juliana Marulanda is a business operations expert, speaker, and the founder of ScaleTime. With over 20 years of experience across Wall Street, the non-profit sector, technology startups, and family-owned businesses, she now helps service-based businesses.
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