Employee engagement surveys are useful tools to measure the health of an organization. They gather candid, unfiltered feedback from the people who work hard to deliver the organization’s strategic priorities to its stakeholders and customers. One of the consistent patterns in the feedback from the surveys we administer is that the lowest scores are registered for the question, “I have a voice regarding the direction of the company.”
Most credible employee engagement surveys have a comparable question and they usually receive a similarly low score. Even companies that score very well in overall engagement consistently have low scores with this question and leaders despair, “What can be done?”
The answer is both simple and complicated – involve your people in the decisions that affect them.
It is tempting for management teams and boards of directors to retreat into a strategy planning session and emerge a few days later with a beautiful document that gets presented as the new strategic plan. And then it fails to inspire commitment and people revert to the status quo.
The problem is not the plan: it could be excellent. The problem is not the retreat process: it could be the most effective way to involve key people in the planning process. The problem is the lack of consultation with the people who will be entrusted to implement and execute the strategy on a daily basis.
In strategic planning, “giving people voice,” means asking and answering the following questions:
- Who is affected by this strategic planning priority, even in a small way?
- How have they been included to provide ideas and input into the development of this strategic initiative?
- What training and support have they identified is needed to execute this strategy?
- Who is the champion for the strategy initiative that will ensure follow through engagement?
Drawing up a good strategic plan document is relatively easy. But, engaging in a comprehensive strategic planning process that involves even the smallest stakeholder in appropriate decision-making is challenging. However, it is by making these investments in the micro details of human commitment that the intended objectives of a strategic plan get turned into profitable outcomes. Involvement gives voice and voice inspires commitment.
The last word goes to Stephen Covey: “Without involvement, there is no commitment. Mark it down, asterisk it, circle it, underline it. No involvement, no commitment.”