If you are a team leader of any type, you have a unique role to play when it comes to ensuring the Strategic Plan gets executed successfully. Your knowledge of the plan could be the difference between your own team’s success or failure, and that could be the difference between the organization’s success or failure. This is why it is essential that you know which parts of the plan matter most to your team. Refer to them often in meetings and conversations; highlight, underline, and dog-ear them in your copy of the plan. And carry the plan with you almost everywhere you go.
This is the heart of the issue: A day should never pass without some reference to the plan. Your knowledge of the plan will be used in a number of ways. First, to bring clarity to the whole team about their role in accomplishing the organization’s priorities. Next, if you are a leader, it is your responsibility to connect the dots between the mission and the Strategic Plan and each team member’s role. Remember, the mission is unchanging and the Strategic Plan is just the way the organization has chosen to accomplish its mission right now. It will change.
Ask people how their daily work impacts the plan. If they don’t know, explain it. Culture Advocates are always trying to get clear about their own role, as well as helping others get clear about their roles. Role clarity is one of the central pieces of building and sustaining a Dynamic Culture.
“But what if the dots don’t connect?” I get this question a lot. “I work in the accounting department and there is no priority in that new Strategic Plan that impacts my role or department.” This may appear to be true sometimes, but it never is, and a seasoned leader of people cannot fall into this trap. It is a morale killer and a creator of subcultures (which are a disease unto themselves).
As an organization grows, there is a certain amount of maintenance that needs to be done to push the mission forward. That maintenance work is essential, but it doesn’t always feel essential to the people doing it. It doesn’t come with huge accolades and is often unappreciated. Although if, for example, you were the payroll person, if you didn’t pay people next pay period, I suspect they would be reminded of the essential nature of your role quickly.
The leader of a team that deals with maintenance aspects of the mission needs to pay special attention to reminding each person how their role supports the great priorities set out in the Strategic Plan. The leader also needs to benchmark performance, encourage continuous learning and improvement, and generally drive ever greater efficiency in all these areas.
Every team member needs and deserves context. They need to know how the work they do connects with the mission, direction, strategy, and end goal of the organization. They need (and want) to know how they can contribute to the organization’s success. Most people don’t want to do less. Yes, there are minimalists who are always asking, “What’s the least I can do?” But they don’t tend to last long in a Dynamic Culture. Most people want to do more. But they want to do more of the stuff that will have the most impact.
A leader’s role is to ensure that every person on her team has everything he or she needs to add as much value as possible. One part of that is clarity around where they fit into the plan and how they contribute to the mission. It is not enough to tell your team this once. Like any important message, it needs to be overcommunicated.
You are responsible for the formal and informal dissemination of your organization’s Strategic Plan among your team members. When was the last time you looked at it? How often do you look at it? How often do you refer to it in meetings or in discussions with your team?