Earlier, we wrote about how your Strategic Plan isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. If you, as a leader, don’t align the plan to your Mission and Vision and regularly sell it to employees at all times, your organization is at risk of floundering and of missing its goals. What are some ways you could set up structures that will help you in this ‘sales’ effort?
Prepare to sell your plan before launch and throughout its lifetime
As you create your plan, develop a launch and long-term communication strategy to go with it. This isn’t just a marcom function to send out an organization-wide communication, conduct a meeting to present this to management and develop expectations for them to cascade it down through their teams, no. Eliminate ego and expectations that the plan should be revered or blindly followed. Unless you have developed such a level of trust from your organization, you need to sell it, ALL THE TIME.
Segment your ‘customers’ by understanding their needs
You are developing a service product here. You need to understand:
- your internal customer segments,
- how your service addresses their needs and trigger points so they will act in a way you want them to,
- the channels that will most effectively sell this product through the organization,
- what your strategy is to make certain your ‘customers’ regularly understand its value, to the organization as well as to them, as this service is to be used (hopefully) over the long term
Your customers are easy to identify, but a more nuanced approach could reveal key, hidden segments that could help you reach the masses.
There’s a company called Key Hubs, run by Vikas Narula. Vikas has a tool that identifies the internal networks within an organization. It uncovers who people look to when they have a question. Who people listen to because they are in the know and have credibility in the office. Learn who those people are and sell them to get them on board with the plan, have them provide feedback so they can feel part of the process and, eventually, help sell the service.
Also, work with your leadership to understand what will help them sell the plan within various segments. You don’t have the luxury to say there’s a customer segment that isn’t a prospect; every employee is a customer you need to sell to be aligned.
Develop these plans as you are starting your process. You can bring in key strategic and influencer people to help in development of the plan as well as its adoption and alignment later on.
Just like you would for any product launch and lifecycle plan, develop a channel strategy for how you’ll deliver the message and receive feedback. Historically with Strategic Plans, the channel strategy consists of a cascading set of presentations from the top to upper management, to their management teams and, in some form, to employees. This is usually done once at launch and then at some time interval to communicate how well the organization is doing against that plan.
That’s not enough.
Each communication only reinforces how irrelevant the plan is to the employees because it hasn’t been connected with them and their role.
For the plan to live and breathe, it needs to have regular account management to make certain the service is getting used, used well, and feedback is obtained to help enhance the service. Identifying standard and non-standard channels, getting them bought in and aligned and then working with them over time to ensure success will help your cause.
Manage the customer life cycle of the plan
Selling your plan doesn’t stop with its launch. If you do, the plan goes in the drawer. Execute a program for you and your channels to regularly sell the plan.
- How does it apply to teams and individuals?
- Why should they care and what would the impact be with employee alignment to that plan, and the Mission?
- How can you empower employees to find ways to make the plan work or get it adjusted if something was missed?
Cycle management doesn’t mean telling people how the organization is doing according to plan. Weave stories on how employees are living up to the plan and the impact those actions are serving customers – how teams and departments are working together for the common goal and the fun they are having doing it. Share how the plan has gotten better because of the creative ideas of people in the organization.
This process takes, for many, a change in perspective. Organizations usually have the idea that leadership ideas and plans are the gospel and those ideas direct how actions and tasks are handled throughout. There’s been enough evidence that such a command and control structure, even in groups such as law enforcement, don’t maximize potential. It doesn’t value the capabilities of the organization and they treat people like machines to get tasks done.
Leaders sell their plans. They listen and stay humble to help align the organization. They let the power and capability of the group propel the organization forward.
We’d love to hear your stories about how you’ve sold your Strategic Plan or how you’ve learn from previous experiences.