Instead of feeling the burden of thinking you have to do it alone, ignite the enthusiasm and passion (the Force) in your employees by involving them in making the new strategic plan come alive.
The more you involve people in its implementation, the greater will be their enthusiastic buy-in and support for the plan–and trust in the direction of the organization.
5 ways to build trust by engaging employees in the strategic planning process
- Involve ALL employees in the process, from the CEO to the frontline –Give everyone the opportunity to share ideas, knowing that all ideas will be considered. This is a skillful way to tap into the vast knowledge and experience that is frequently underutilized in organizations. Allow this collaborative process to be like an artist molding a clay sculpture of the desired future state of your organization. Involving them demonstrates your trust in their ideas.
- Encourage your managers to create individual development plans for everyone in the organization – Assign every employee at least one goal to work actively toward achieving. Let everyone have a piece of the puzzle so they can feel a sense of pride and ownership in the success of the organization’s new direction. Allow them to feel a sense of meaning and belonging to something bigger than themselves. Assigning them to a goal demonstrates your trust in their abilities.
- Create Declarations of Understanding (DOUs) –List the behaviors that will constitute a sense of support and co-operation among employees—the ways in which they can count on each other. Clarify in writing your desires and expectations regarding your direct reports, and let them reciprocate by sharing their desires and expectations of you. Then, encourage your direct reports to do the same with their direct reports, thus creating a cascading effect throughout the organization. The DOUs help to clarify decision-making authority, solidify boundaries, and minimize unpleasant or awkward “surprises” at employee performance review time. This open dialogue builds mutual understanding and trust.
- Keep the plan alive by establishing a team of “Eagles” –A proficient way to keep people engaged is to establish an Eagle Team (or Steering Committee) whose sole purpose is to keep the high watch and continually infuse energy into implementing the plan. This team keeps track of progress and adjusts the plan when new, unforeseen developments arise, recommending mid-course corrections to executive leadership. When building your Eagle Team, assign high-performing employees (“Eagles”) from different levels and functional areas of your organization—and be sure to inform each team member that this special assignment is an honor and privilege. Remember to listen to what those on your team suggest, and act on as many ideas as possible. Failure to follow through could jeopardize the entire collaborative process and undermine trust. Implementing their recommendations demonstrates your trust in their judgment.
- Provide transparent, consistent, and frequent communication – Create a systematic communication plan for sharing progress toward the organization’s vision, strategies, and goals. Report milestones achieved and express appreciation for the efforts of all your team members. Be candid in your communications and seek input for improvements from employees at every level within the company, and listen intently to the feedback you receive. After all the energy you will have invested, the last thing you want them to say is, “Why did I bother? They didn’t do anything with my ideas anyway!” The absence of communication will lead you to the “Dark Side” (rumors). The rumor mill is quite efficient but is seldom accurate and constructive. Candid, timely communication builds a culture of trust.
In what other ways do you “trust the Force” (workforce)?
Much success and fulfillment,
(Adapted from Chapter 10 of Energize Your Business: Engage Your Employees with an Inspiring Strategic Planning Process by Ray Madaghiele.
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