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Use the Strategic Plan to Focus your Employees on the Vital Few rather than the Trivial Many

Contributed by Marc Koehler

We want our employees to love what they do, while being focused on the most important aspects of the business.  Unfortunately, a majority of business leaders face two challenges. 

The first one is Dis-Engaged Employees.  A recent Gallup poll identified that 19% of the existing workforce are miserable and another 52% are apathetic toward their work.  These 71% are dis-engaged because they don’t understand how their work is connected to a greater cause, which usually results in many of your best employees leaving.   

The second challenge is Opportunity Overload.  We live in a connected world that produces an overwhelming amount of information 24 hours per day.  While goals are set at the beginning of each year, many employees are frequently lured away by other distracting, bright shiny opportunities that take their focus off what is important.  

Craft a Single-Page Strategic plan to Avoid the Daily “Sea of Infinity”. 

First, engage your employees by creating and promoting a Purpose statement that gets to the core of why your company exists.  Not all companies have a Purpose statement, but many that do have one which is lengthy, not easy to remember, and are typically tucked away in a 30+ page strategic plan that is reviewed and revised annually.     

The Purpose should get employees excited and passionate about coming to work every day and help them understand more easily how they contribute toward a shared end-game.

3M’s purpose is “To Solve Problems Innovatively”.   To promote their Purpose, every employee is given 15% free time to follow their hunch to hatch innovative ideas.  Many innovative products, including  the famous Post-It Note, have been produced by existing employees because of the 15% time policy..     

Creating a well-defined Purpose statement will not only help keep great employees, it will also start attracting other top talent. 

Second, to prevent employees from losing focus because of opportunity overload, leaders should clearly communicate only three to five goals annually.  A single page strategic plan includes not only the company Purpose, but also its five year initiatives and one year goals.  Everything is aligned and can be viewed on one page. 

The plan defends your employee’s time allowing them to stay focused and not be easily seduced away and distracted.  As the old Chinese proverb says, “Chase two rabbits and both will escape.”

One single page plan user says it best.  “The three goals give us permission to not pay attention to all of the distractions that are not high priority items…in other words, if it isn’t on the plan, it’s ok to put it on the back burner till later.”

In summary, a single page strategic plan can be used daily to ground, focus, and align your employees and will help you lead your company across the treacherous waters of opportunity overload and employee dis-engagement. 

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