Strategic plans can be a challenge to keep active and at the forefront of a management team’s efforts in their day to day work. This is particularly true in the midst of all that has happened worldwide in the last few months with the COVID-19 pandemic. How do you inspire and motivate employees to continue to put focus and effort on the strategic plan as they work virtually, and what do you do when you get back together over the next month or two.
First, what do you do regarding your strategic plan when everyone is working virtually? In theory, what motivates people are wins. With less contact with each other and the overwhelm of learning to work in a new way, as well as the added stressors of illness and unknown, your employees are likely to be discouraged or distressed at some level. How can you give them wins? As a leader or leadership team, continue with your strategic work, and collect data on the results. Display the data and talk about it in meetings or via email. Show successes and progress toward targets. And if the data shows that a particular strategy is not having the anticipated effect, pivot, realign and readjust. Not only does that keep your plan active and effective, it demonstrates leadership’s integrity and commitment to strategic work. And your staff will stay motivated because they see the strategies are working and their leaders are committed to the organization and to them. As leaders, in a time of crisis, you will likely need to pull more than your share of the weight. But having done so, when the crisis is over, you will find a more committed and motivated staff backing you up and ready to again take on their load.
What about when the team comes back, when businesses open back up and we are back to “business as usual”? This a critical time to dig in and reevaluate your plan. In our post titled “Mid-Course Correction” we encourage three key steps to reevaluation – which we switched up a bit here to respond to the dramatic changes the last few months have brought:
- Complete a brief review of the organization’s vision, values and purpose. This not only renews momentum and commitment, but it also may reflect changes in thinking and priorities that have developed during the recent upheaval in the economy and the environment in which your organization operates.
- Review each project on the strategic plan, asking if it is still a priority, still on track to reach its target and that it has the applicable and appropriate steps laid out to get the work done. Modify projects so that they remain both current and relevant.
- Look at the external environment your organization operates in. This is a particularly essential step in the aftermath of the pandemic. Have new opportunities arisen that are not in the plan or, are there new threats that must be addressed? Add or modify projects to make your plan a better reflection of the changes in your operating environment.
- Look at your plan as a whole once all the “revising” is complete. Do the projects reflect the organization’s purpose? Will their completion assure progress toward the vision? Is the work realistic and doable? Tweak as needed, while assuring that the strategic plan stays a focal point of your organization’s toolbox.
It is easy to drop a strategic focus when all hands are on deck working through the current crisis. But as leaders, this is not the time to let your focus drop from the future. Keep your strategic plan alive and progressing, and keep your staff informed. If you do, you will find that the transition back together and the organization’s movement toward the future will be smoother, realistic and, dare we suggest, optimistic!
Questions? We offer our full team and toolbox of resources to help you navigate this unprecedented time – whether virtually in the short term or “boots on the ground” in the months to come. Contact us to start a conversation.