During a visit to the NASA space center in 1962, President Kennedy noticed a janitor carrying a broom. He interrupted his tour, walked over to the man and said, “Hi, I’m Jack Kennedy. What are you doing?”
The janitor responded, “I’m helping put a man on the moon, Mr. President.”
Congratulations! You just returned from your annual strategic planning retreat. You gathered economic, competitor, and market data. You compared the strengths and weaknesses of your organization with external opportunities and threats. You decided where to tweak your products, how to reach new markets, and ways to generate higher profits. Now what?
If your strategic plan is in a 3-ring binder sitting on a shelf collecting dust until time to work on next year’s plan, it’s really no more than a theory. The sooner you can connect your strategic objectives with employee goals and rewards, the better chance you have of turning that theory into reality.
Here are three proven ways to increase employee engagement with your strategic plan:
Many strategic plans focus primarily on financial metrics. Most employees don’t connect on a day to day basis with metrics like operating margins, net profit and EBITDA. They don’t see how making a decision about how to handle a customer issue is connected to profit margin. And the rare times that employees do get to see key performance metrics, the gap between when their performance occurred and the metrics is far too great to have any real meaning.
Throw out the old paradigm of the annual performance review. That paradigm traditionally goes like this: set goals, file goals, pull goals out after 12 months, beat employee about the head for not achieving goals. Instead, change the annual performance review process to one of continuous review and adjustment throughout the year. Why? You don’t want to save up negative feedback until the employee fails. Employee failure means organizational failure.
Employees should feel that when the organization has been successful, they share in the rewards. Conversely, when the organization has been unsuccessful, they should feel some of the pain. Incentive and reward systems provide the linkage between organizational and individual performance. Don’t be afraid to move all employee performance reviews to coincide with the release of annual performance results.
Strategy execution happens with true goal alignment from top to bottom, regular monitoring of progress, and linking individual incentives with organizational performance. Help your employees move from obliged to engaged to turn your strategy into reality.
Question: How deep into your org chart do employees connect with the organization’s strategic goals?