A winning business plan is nothing if employees aren't behind it. Here's how to get them on board.
Ever craft an annual business plan only to watch it gather dust in a binder? When taking a business from zero to maturity, it's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind. But getting everyone on board with your mission will get you there faster. Here are six ways to get your strategic plan out of your head and into the minds of employees.
Put it on paper. Lengthy business plans and spreadsheets will only make your mission more confusing to non-executives. Boil it down to one page with the following: Your goals, mission, core values, key aspects of your target audience, positioning, three-to five-year strategic moves, and current year priorities. Don't forget these: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, and key performance indicators.
Make it visible. Employees tend to forget how their work ties into the company's big picture, so hand out paper copies of your plan to keep at their desks. Do ask them to keep it confidential, as you don't want competitors seeing it.
Involve your new hires. Many new hires haven't been exposed to business plans in the past and clearly don't know the fundamentals of yours. Make time to personally walk them through, explaining how their role and decisions tie in with your goals. If you do this in a group setting, everyone can engage in an active discussion.
Dust off your plan. Strategic plans can go stale if they aren't updated continuously. Meet with your management team quarterly to revise your plan as needed based on new opportunities, threats, or weaknesses. Be sure to keep the company posted on changes during quarterly company meetings and pass out the revised one-pager.
Solicit meaningful feedback. All too often, business plans can feel disconnected from workers who help make them happen. Hold brainstorming sessions so everyone can offer input on how to move the company forward.
Delegate goals and track progress accordingly. Each annual strategic priority should have a clear owner who rallies the team to get it done. Hold these leaders accountable through frequent updates both to you and the workforce in monthly meetings. If you have plenty of plans with distributed teams, track your progress via a Google spreadsheet.
Getting everyone aligned with your vision requires a team effort. Start by making your business plan accessible and you'll reap major benefits.
AMY BUCKNER CHOWDHRY: Amy is chief executive and co-founder of AnswerLab, a digital experience research consultancy in San Francisco. In 2011, Amy received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneurial Winning Woman Award. @amybuckner