Our BLOG topic for this month is about 2021 business planning competencies. No matter how carefully you’ve crafted your strategic plan during this pandemic, successful implementation will depend on how you communicate it to your employees. You’ll want to invest time in developing a thoughtful internal communications strategy as well as develop proper measures of your progress. Let’s look at ways you can maximize your communication efforts.
Try An Interactive Approach
Dedicate time for a staff meeting, dividing the participants into small groups. The smaller the groups, the more engaged the participants will be.
Next, provide them with a thorough overview of the strategic plan.
Then, assign each group to a specific element of the strategy and ask them to find a picture or illustrate what success looks like. For example: fireworks in the night sky, connected puzzle pieces, a team celebrating a victory, a dart hitting the bullseye, etc.
Next, ask each team to brainstorm ways in which the organization can affect these elements of the strategy they’ve been assigned to. In this case, ask the teams to brainstorm ways in which their specific roles or teams can support the strategy.
Require the teams to choose their “best” implementation method and explain it to the group.
Finally, share the results that might work well for your team in the office and/or via an internal communication channel.
An interactive approach like this is a good way to help employees understand the foundation of your strategic plan. With this level of understanding, they’ll be able to internalize what it means to them in their role and how to make it happen.
Keep employees invested and engaged in the strategy by communicating the plan and providing avenues for bottom-up communication. What this looks like will depend on the style (formal or informal) and organization of your business. Nevertheless, it is something that should not be overlooked.
Have you heard the quote “What gets measured, gets managed.”? As you implement your strategic or operational plans for 2021 keep in mind that it’s very important to measure the success and growth of your business. You will need a system that you can depend on to measure the successful execution of your plan. In fact, a recent study of 1,100 small and medium-sized businesses found that those growing fastest were 50% more likely to use metrics to monitor their performance.
So, regardless if your strategic plan calls for increases in efficiency, improving quality or the completion of a project, tracking your results is critical. In my last blog I mentioned setting S.M.A.R.T goals, the “T” refers to time-bound. Time-bound goals keep your progress moving forward. Without a clear timeline, every day work responsibilities will take precedence and delay progress to execute your project plan. Inevitably plans and projects easily veer off course without an effective measurement mechanism. Without deadlines, it’s difficult to enforce accountability, issues are harder to identify, and the origin of those issues can be very difficult to pinpoint.
How to Measure Progress
There are many ways to measure progress. The one that works best for you depends on your business, its structure, and the desired outcomes of your strategic plan. One very common method for objectively measuring progress is using KPIs (key-performance indicators). Consider the following examples: a mining company concerned about safety benefits from keeping track of the number of injury-free days. This measurement allows for two things. First, they can determine how well their policies prevent injury. Secondly, they might be able to see if policies are being followed. However, be sure to develop your KPIs with the following characteristics.
Relate to Goals
For example, if your strategic plan calls for an improvement in marketing or sales, it's valuable to track the number of sales calls or repeat business and perhaps the number of likes and engagement on social media.
Keep your KPIs simple so individuals or departments can understand what is being measured. Don’t overload employees with too many KPIs to measure.
Keep your KPI reporting methods simple. Simplicity ensures information is available when needed. After all, it's best to use KPI data as a feedback and early-warning mechanism. Data requiring time-intensive processing loses value.
Use a performance dashboard to track your KPIs. This is an easy way for the entire department or team to stay informed about overall progress.
Remember to thoroughly review KPI data at status update meetings. Make the most of the opportunity by employing your analytical and critical thinking skills and determine if procedural changes are needed.
KPIs are a great way to objectively measure the progress of your strategic or operational plans. However, stay in touch with your employee’s happiness, engagement and the company’s culture. Too much emphasis on meeting targets and goals can enable managers to use the KPIs in a threatening way. When this happens productivity and engagement declines.
An engaged workforce is the key to a successful implementation of your strategic plan. Communication and targeted KPIs are the keys to get and keep employees engaged. If you’d like to discuss communication approaches that would benefit your business, contact me.