You put a lot of work into your strategic plan.
You’ve defined your vision for the future. You’ve spent hours upon hours with your leadership team constructing budget projections and forecasting the market. You know the type of company you want to have in three years, five years and even 10 years.
Then, all that planning gets printed and placed in a nice, professional-looking binder … and sits on a shelf in your office, gathering dust. How does that make any sense?
It doesn’t, but countless companies have a strategic plan on a shelf somewhere, wedged between volumes of that complete 1980s Encyclopedia Britannica set that they never bothered to throw away.
Strategic plans are meant as road maps for your company’s future growth. But nobody is going to follow the road unless your strategy is a living, breathing part of your company’s day-to-day life. And for that to happen, your people need to be able to align themselves with your plan.
Here’s how to dust off your strategic plan and fashion it into the company compass it was always meant to be.
Milestones are the motivational booster shots that sustain a long-term plan. Create quarterly milestone goals for your team – and identify the three, five or seven things necessary to achieve those milestones. From there, illustrate in detail how those milestones ramp up to annual goals, which helps your company achieve its long-range plan. Remember to assign a single owner to each of the tasks or projects that must be done to accomplish your milestones.
Walk the talk
Let’s ask a fundamental question: How can you as a leader transform your well-crafted strategic plan from a binder on a shelf into something your company lives every day? Answer: You’re going to make it happen. How? You’re going to aspire to the vision and live the values as an example for everyone else. If you don’t embrace the plan and the vision first, but you expect everyone else to live by it, guess what? That’s hypocrisy, and your credibility will take a huge hit.
Your leadership team needs to do the same, for the same reasons. Everything that happens in your company, good and bad, trickles down from the top.
Ask for feedback
Corporate America loves the annual review. It’s an opportunity to discuss an employee’s performance and give employees a chance to offer feedback on the their jobs, and on the company in general.
But a lot can happen in a year, relative to the strategic plan. If you’re asking your people to hit monthly or quarterly milestones, you need to solicit feedback from them just as often. And, yes, maybe your company is growing, and it’s impossible to speak to every employee, every month. But you can still grab a cross section of the company for a coffee break or lunch. And a month later, grab another cross-section. If your company has 100 employees, you can make sure you’ve engaged every person within half a year.
Ownership is key to the success of any strategic plan, and people are much more likely to own it if they feel like they’ve had a hand in shaping it.
Ron Kaminski is the founder at CultureShoc. If you need assistance on how to build a better culture, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.