How to Deal with Plan Execution Saboteurs

As we’ve discussed many times on our blog, organizations continually struggle with executing their most important plans. Fortunately, more and more organizations are turning the corner towards successful execution by leveraging industry best practices and purpose-built software.

However, for nearly every organization that’s on the journey towards a culture of execution – and even those already successfully executing – there is commonly one detrimental issue that arises: individuals unwilling to participate.

While the resistance is normally limited to a few individuals, having any pushback against the plan can cause frustration for managers. Questions start flying around like, “We’ve been planning for months, why are they just now complaining?” and “Why is it so hard for them to just provide an update?” How does this happen?

This may sound like common sense, but those responsible for completing the initiatives, managing projects, and aligning objectives can struggle with new processes – especially if they don’t understand their role in the execution process.

The Secret to Gaining Buy-In from Change Resistant Employees

While the path to buy-in and successful execution most certainly starts with building an effective accountability system, as my colleague Joe Krause discussed, it also involves three additional elements. Over the past month, I have been asked about this exact problem several times and given the same response.

Whether you’re in a college or university dealing with resistant faculty, in a health system managing resistant physicians, or in any other organization working with individuals afraid of change, consider the following tips:

1) Involve your people in the planning process

Your strategic planning process shouldn’t be done behind closed doors. If employees at all levels have no input into the plan and don’t hear about it until its final, how should you expect them to 100% be behind it? Strategic planning takes a village. Involve your people in the process so they can stamp their fingerprints and become invested in the plan.

If your strategic planning process resembles Moses coming down with the 10 commandments and is etched in stone, you are living in the past and will increase your likelihood for resistance.

2) Understand your people

Do you actually know your people on a personal level? Do you understand what motivates them and why they enjoy coming to work each and every day?

While you don’t need to know all the intimate details of their lives, understanding what motivates your team will allow you to align goals with the proper team members and leaders throughout the organization. In addition to proper alignment, knowing your team and having that influence trickle down throughout the organization can help increase job satisfaction and retention, which also happens to indirectly increase buy-in to organizational initiatives.

3) Make your plan “real”

While a plan certainly needs business elements to drive success, you shouldn’t play buzzword bingo when creating it. As you move down the layers of a plan, e.g. from Objectives to Goals to Strategies to Tactics, or whatever your terminology maybe, make an effort to relate more to your people.

If you work in a healthcare system, your tactics at the nursing level shouldn’t be heavily invested in “creating synergies” or increasing specific quality metrics. The tactics should align more with what that level of the organization cares about: helping people feel better. The same applies to colleges and universities. Don’t try to convince a resistant faculty member that fundraising or development is the most important focus. Relate to them and align tactics around what they care about: improving the educational experience for students.


Leading from the Center 

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Leading from the Center

Engage Employees from Early-On for Execution Excellence

A culture of execution starts early, from the ground up. To build your Dream Team of Plan Execution, you’ve got to commit as a team from the beginning.

While AchieveIt is already working to reduce resistance through decreased time spent on reporting, increased time spent on execution, and increased alignment and collaboration, consider these three elements to reduce the resistance in other areas. Have other recommendations or issues you’ve run into? Let us know!


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Organizations of all types leverage AchieveIt to manage, execute, and connect their most important initiatives. Replace manual processes & siloed systems with interconnected plans in a single, automated platform.


Meet the Author  Jonathan Morgan

Jonathan Morgan is the VP of Revenue Operations and Head of Marketing at AchieveIt. Jonathan has spent time in roles across strategy consulting, sales, customer engagement, marketing, and operations, enabling a full picture view of strategy & strategy execution. His generalist background encourages a full picture view of strategic planning & strategy execution. Jonathan graduated from Georgia Tech and received his MBA from the University of Florida.

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