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Selling Your Strategic Plan to Your Employees

Strategic PlanSimply having a strategic plan in place within the organization is not sufficient to getting it accomplished. Leadership must sell their strategic plan to the employees. Employees must buy-in to the strategic plan if they are going to support it and work toward accomplishing its objectives. Many leaders scoff at the thought of selling a plan to their employees. After all, they are the boss – right? It means little. If we want employees to support our initiatives we must help them understand the reason behind those initiatives. This includes:

  • Sharing the vision for the organization
  • Ensuring understanding of the strategic plan
  • Ensuring understanding of those initiatives selected to accomplish the objectives of the strategic plan (including how they were selected and prioritized)
  • Enabling for participation in the strategic planning process

Involving Employees in the Process

I am not proposing that we involve every employee in a strategic planning session, however, it is easy enough to get their input and increase their involvement in any number of ways. For example,

  • Send an online survey to all employees asking for their input on a number of strategic questions about the organization (for example: What are the top 5 improvements the organization might make? or What are the major opportunities the organization just can’t afford to miss?)
  • Hold focus group sessions with groups of employees to enable them to offer their feedback and thoughts on the organization as it applies to strategic planning
  • Ask each department head to facilitate a meeting with their employees to gather information for the strategic planning sessions (ensure consistency by having each department head ask the same questions of their staff)
  • Enable employees to provide thoughts and continue the discussion with each other and management via an internal collaboration site

Benefits of “Selling” the Strategic Plan

The benefits of selling the strategic plan are many and include:

  • Commitment to the plan and meeting the objectives of the plan
  • Understanding the bigger picture and feeling a part of it
  • Engagement of employees in setting the direction of the organization
  • A better plan overall through obtaining information that the leadership team may not be aware of (since employees are often closer to the customer than leadership may be)
  • Ensuring a broader perspective about the company (diversity in participation will enable for more innovation in the strategic plan

An Example

Let’s explore how Abudi Consulting Group has helped one of their clients to engage their employees in the strategic planning process.

For a global organization, Abudi Consulting Group, works with the executive to engage employees prior to development of the plan and again after the plan is finalized as follows:

Pre-Strategic Plan Development

Post-Strategic Plan Development

  • An email communication is sent to all employees to ask for their input (3 – 5 questions about the organization are posed in an online survey as well as an open-ended comment section.)
  • Employees have the option of going to a collaboration portal and providing information to use in the strategic planning process. This also enables for collaboration and sharing of information between employees so they can share/discuss their ideas.
  • Once survey data is gathered, focus group sessions (in person and virtual) are set up and employees are invited to attend and explore further ideas and thoughts about the organization. 
  • A subset of the strategic plan document is shared with employees.
  • Follow up focus groups are scheduled for asking questions about the plan.
  • Information is provided on the internal portal about the plan from the CEO as well as thanking employees for their participation. He also always notes that he is available to any employee to discuss the plan in more detail and mentions that leadership of each division and department will reach out to discuss development of operational plans to achieve the strategy.

The first year this process was put in place, approximately 25% of the employees contributed to the process. However, year over the year the number of participants have increased incredibly. Last year, the fourth year using this process, 85% of employees participated! We are looking forward to even more participation in 2016!

Engaging employees in the process of strategic planning gets them committed to the organization and its goals. It makes them feel part of the bigger picture and enables them to participate in determining how to best move the organization forward. Engaging employees in the process provides a diversity in opinions, ideas and thoughts on opportunities to undertake as well as how to solve particular business problems. For another client, employees participate in the SWOT (Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats) Analysis by providing input via an online collaborative system. Find a number of ways to have your employees participate in the strategic planning process – you will see benefits immediately!

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