Every few years, government employees gather to create the “Strategic Plan.” Typically, a costly consultant leads dozens of employees through a long and often tedious planning process, without building upon previous plans. After the strategy is published, everyone proclaims it the best one written and says it will change everything, only to have staff continue with business as usual. Sound familiar?
Even with the enormous benefits of a well-designed strategy, leaders only successfully execute new plans half of the time (Candido and Santos, Journal of Management & Organization – 2015) — thus proving that it is not enough to draft a strategy. Employees also must adopt the plan in order to create lasting change and avoid wasting development time and resources.
To ensure your organization adopts the new approach, consider the following three tips.
- Have a solid strategy implementation plan
Although developing the strategy takes the most effort, it’s only half of the planning process. There also should be a plan for communication and implementation. Frequently, senior leadership creates the strategy then gives it to the broader team to implement, with zero communication about the reasons behind each tactic or step-by-step actions to achieve the identified goals.
Talking with the workforce and clearly explaining the implementation process and benefits helps employees understand their roles in achieving success and encourages them to change behaviors. Skipping this vital step can leave employees feeling like the strategy does not directly apply to them and, therefore, is not worth their time.
- Make the strategy implementation part of everyday work
When assessing your strategy, how much time will pass before the goal is achieved? If the answer is several months or years, how much patience could frontline employees and managers lose while waiting to see results? Instead, consider notifying employees of the strategy’s milestone wins and encouraging them to identify new strategic opportunities while changing their day-to-day activities. That ultimately will help the organization reach its overall objective(s).
For example, if one of your organization’s strategic goals is to transform digitally, leadership should not wait until procuring new technology before enlisting support from employees. Rather, ask employees throughout the strategy’s lifecycle for suggestions on how technology could improve their performance.
This minor adjustment not only helps the workforce feel like it’s part of the strategic mission but, more importantly, keeps the strategic discussion front and center and top of mind.
- Recognize and reward the new way
It’s just human nature to want to be recognized or appreciated for a job well done. Workplace recognition also can serve as a powerful motivator — a fact supported by a Deloitte study stating that employee engagement, productivity, and performance is 14% higher in organizations that recognize their employees.
Leaders can acknowledge employees in several ways, including formal awards, office celebrations, verbal announcements during meetings, etc. Regardless of the method, the point is to tell the workforce frequently that its strategic efforts are recognized, valued, and making a difference.
Following the above tips will take effort and dedication. However, it is better to make sure your workforce adopts a plan upfront, rather than spending thousands of collective hours and countless resources on a strategy written once and never read.
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Shonte Eldridge currently serves as the Senior Director of State and Local Government Strategy and Solutions at DocuSign. In this role, she is responsible for identifying trends and creating opportunities that help government leaders simplify how they do business. Before joining DocuSign, Shonte worked at Amazon Web Services as an executive government advisor and has over two decades of experience in various state and local government C-Suite positions. She is well known for using technology to solve complex operational challenges and was named one of the 25 women to watch by the Baltimore Sun newspaper and magazine in 2020.
Photo: Jeshoots.com via Unsplash
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