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Article -> Involve Employees in Strategic Planning

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Date Added: October 2006

Communication is a key to success in business environments, and even more prevalent when introducing a strategic plan throughout your organization. Involving employees in strategy makes them more engaged in the process. Yet, the No. 1 reason cited by executives as an area to improve related to strategy, is to align employees with their strategic plan. Let’s discuss how to accomplish this.
 
A strategic plan begins with leadership engaging departments to create corporate goals and strategies. Involving more people initiates communication, as these people become advocates and “spread the word.” This leads to cascading strategic messages whereby leaders communicate to their teams and so on. Employees prefer communication directly from their leader – more than the CEO. This ensures important information is available and leaders can easily address questions.
 
Communicating your strategy goes beyond introducing it. Ongoing communication needs to occur. Reviewing the strategic plan on a minimum quarterly basis as a continuous review helps facilitate communication. Employees will embrace the communication as they want to know how the organization performs.
 
Creating a corporate dashboard is another communication method. Like the dashboard on your car, it provides a quick glance of important items. In this instance, the 5-7 key goals for the year. A simple red, yellow, green light symbol tells employees the status of each goal.
 
Other venues include email updates from employees responsible for the corporate goal/strategy. This is not the CEO; it is the people responsible for implementation. If email isn’t feasible, information can be shared via the intranet, employee newsletters, or paychecks. Each organization is different and you need to determine the best employee communication venues. The ideal way is to ask them (also known as voice of your employees).
 
Only 14% of organizations incorporate priorities of employees from all company levels in strategic planning. Incorporating employee priorities must occur. If not, communication doesn’t matter. The result of positive communication is success at all levels.
 
Employees want to be part of the strategy, so incorporate them into it. Only 29% of employees are fully engaged at work, and disengaged employees cost companies $300 billion annually.
 
Incorporating people into strategy presents four challenges. One is motivation. Employees must be motivated to align themselves with the strategy. Second, communication of messages must be taught to leaders to effectively filter messages to employees, helping create employee trust and understanding. Third, is information overload. Information must be segmented for departments so it is “in their language,” clear and concise. Fourth, is measurement of results. Evaluate communication to determine its success in helping strategy.
 
Another communication issue involves customer communication. Organizations must take steps to communicate their strategy with customers, and likewise, listen to customers. This strengthens the bond with customers and involves them in your strategy, resulting in a true partnership.
 
Communication in strategy is a tool that enhances professional relationships. It produces trust between employees and leaders, and customers and organizations. When done effectively, the result is a successful strategy.

This article was featured in the Green Bay Press Gazette on Tuesday October 3, 2006. S:\Knowledge Center\Articles on website\Strategy\InvolveEmployeesinStrategicPlanPG100306.pdf

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