Engage in Continuous Communication and Accomplish More of Your Plan

By Stuart Childs

A pivotal piece of any strategic planning software success is the all-important “Onsite Day.” Scheduling a handful of executives and stakeholders to sit in a room for the hours it takes to onboard, train, and implement represents the commitment – both financial and cultural – by both organizations to more thoroughly pursue plan execution. The Onsite Day is the culmination of weeks of work to define, align, and implement a new path forward on the journey to efficient execution. A lot riding on this day, right?

As easy, and often correct, as it is to hail the Onsite Day as the critical juncture by which success and failure can be defined moving forward, there’s also a glaring question that few clients think about beforehand – “What happens after the onsite?”

Maintaining Excitement After Implementation

Suddenly that glorified Onsite Day isn’t the sticking point. You’ve got to worry about what happens once the buildup and excitement of a successful implementation have passed.

The simple solution is: don’t let it.

Obviously, it’s much more difficult than it sounds, but in my experience, world-class organizations keep engagement high across their organization by ensuring key priorities stay top of mind – always.

It’s not enough to just talk about major goals at Onsite Days and townhalls. The most successful companies’ top 3-5 goals are deeply ingrained in the culture of the organization; any employee you stop in the break room could recite those initiatives to you. These companies’ goals are aligned to daily activities and every task supports driving the outcome of one of those major initiatives.

3 Steps to Make Your Key Priorities Part of Your Culture

If you’re one of the organizations described above, bravo! Please stop reading and instead let the rest of us know how you did it.

But, if in all likelihood, you do not identify with that group, there are a number of simple steps you can take to start to move in that direction.

Have a conversation about strategic planning.

Most organizations I work with as an AchieveIt Consultant come into an Onsite Day with the idea that their whole organization has a firm grasp of the strategic direction of the company. The reality is that, more often than not, you’ll get more questions than answers when asking the group to speak to their path forward.

By simply beginning a dialogue around strategic planning, you implicitly involve your team in the process. Ask for their feedback, answer their questions, and create an environment of transparency centered around planning and execution. Just sending an email with an attachment doesn’t count.

Tailor for resonance.

Imagine a salesperson using the same sales materials and talk track for every client regardless of size, industry, market, maturity, etc. Are they successful? Unlikely. An ice cream truck owner doesn’t have the same challenges as Jeff Bezos.

The best presentations are carefully tailored to evoke a response from a specific audience. This is the same approach great leaders take as they enlist their team to execute on initiatives.

Be cognizant of how messages will be perceived at varying levels of the organization. Ask yourself, “What matters to this group?” Then address them accordingly.

By aligning their priorities to the priorities of the organization, you’ve connected the dots they need to know their impact.

Share the why behind the what.

Effective communication involves more than simply sharing instructions and informing the team how you’d like them to proceed. There are reams of data to support the overestimation leaders place on their ability to create buy-in.

As a leader, you have the unfortunate position of constantly being exposed to the inevitable second-guessing present anytime one person has to make a decision that affects others. One simple tactic you can employ is to educate your team on why a particular decision was made – not just the decision itself.

To take it a step further, share all the many things you decided not to do. You chose a particular path for a reason, now inform the team the paths you didn’t choose and why.

By trusting them with sharing your decision-making process, you can guide your stakeholders through the journey you took to get to where you’ve landed, and now you can all proceed forward together. 

Continuous Communication is the Key to a Culture of Commitment to Plan Execution

I recently heard effective communication compared to dental hygiene.

In order to maintain good dental health, you have to a) go to the dentist every 6 months (these are your Onsite Days, implementations, and townhalls), but you also have to b) brush your teeth 2x per day for 2 minutes (reviewing your 3-5 priorities every week with your managers, aligning tasks to overall goals, and easily-accessed dashboards).

Failure to do both will result in cavities and root canals. Little in life is as unpleasant as a physical root canal, but a root canal on your strategic planning process is nearly as bad. By practicing constant communication and employing these 3 strategies, you and your team can keep your strategic execution in good health.

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