It’s halftime, ladies and gentlemen. You’re doing a great job executing on your plan, measuring your successes, stimulating employee engagement and adapting your strategy to move with your industry – but it’s already time to start your strategic plan for 2018! And those of you in Education are feeling the planning pressure right now.
Don’t fret. We have a simple planning template to guide you in your journey. All you need to worry about is: Why? What? and How?
If you answer these three questions, you’ll have a fully built-out strategic plan in no time. Better yet – these questions help build consensus by engaging employees to help identify the answers. In-depth employee engagement leads to greater buy-in on execution and vision, guiding your team towards more successful plan execution and alignment.
“Why” is the most important question in the strategic planning process. When you ask a group of folks to list their goals for the year, they usually respond with answers like “increase employee engagement” or “reduce operating margins.” But this is what you want to do, not why.
Think about it: You want to increase employee engagement for a reason other than increased productivity. Increased productivity is a wonderful thing, but goals are meant to be a bit more inspirational. An example of a goal would be, “Work collaboratively in an environment that supports open communication, prudent risk-taking and innovation to achieve high levels of performance.” Now that statement highlights why you’re getting out of bed in the morning.
If you’re struggling with plan execution in 2017, it could be due to lack of “Whys.” For a gut-check assessment of your current plan execution, check out this guest blog by Todd Garretson, Recent Survey Pinpoints New Challenges for Organizations in Executing Strategy. It’s necessary to learn from your past challenges and be agile enough to course-correct your plan execution to adapt to your organization’s truths.
Now that you’ve defined your “why,” it’s time to measure your success. For example, an objective would be, “Improve employee engagement score over previous year by 10%.”
Objectives are meant to be extremely straightforward because they make up the area of your plan that you’ll use to define success. For example, if your goal is to lose weight and you don’t weigh yourself, you’ll never know how successful you were. You should use this same “track and compare” measurement methodology during your planning meetings. It may take some time to dig up measurements but it’ll be well worth it.
The last thing you want is to close out your year scratching your head wondering if you’ve been successful. Plan to engage employees throughout the year by asking them to provide success measurement updates, so they can be active in contributing and tracking against your strategic goals. Create a culture where the visibility and buy-in increase on both ends; more employees can celebrate their contributions to goal achievements, and more team members will share the responsibility of working together to solve a challenge.
The “How” in planning is the actions you’ll take to achieve your goals. For example, if your objective is to increase employee engagement scores, you’ll need to define what day-to-day activities you’ll undertake to move that number in the right direction. You may think about implementing a revamped year-end review process to help increase employee engagement. The year-end review process would be your strategy, and the granular items to accomplish the strategy would be your tactics.
Think of strategies and tactics as your projects and assignments. This is the “easiest” part of the plan to develop because we’re all familiar with what needs to be done on a daily basis.
Big idea organization goals should be prominently displayed and firmly ingrained in your team. The minutiae of project management software can often disguise how each task rolls up to support your strategic plan. It’s therefore all-important to relate individual contributions back to organizational goals to keep employee engagement at a maximum.
To learn more about how to create a corporate culture that not only aligns with the organization’s vision, goals and overall strategy, but also amplifies execution and results, sign up for our webinar, Master the 4 Stages to Building a Corporate Culture that Amplifies Execution.