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Making Strategy Execution Personal for Staff

Posted May 21, 2012 11:06 PM by Mark Cutler

At Ascendant, when we work with the executives and managers of mission-driven organizations to help them develop and implement their Balanced Scorecards (BSC), we are often asked the question: "How do we get staff engaged?"

While sometimes this question comes up when developing the strategy map, measures, and initiatives, it also arises once these pieces of the BSC are complete and leaders want to know what's next.

Often, the nature of mission-driven organizations makes them intellectual, consensus-driven workplaces where decisions are made deliberately and with everyone's input. This sometimes drives leaders to ask how they can get staff involved in the strategy development part of the Balanced Scorecard.

While this is an important part of organizational culture which we highly respect, I am a firm believer that an organization's leaders create the strategy and staff executes it. In theory, that is why the leaders have made it to their leadership positions. In addition, mission-driven organizations are typically teeming with frontline staff with the energy and willingness to contribute to the strategy in any way they can.

So with this in mind, there are a few ways for leaders to make staff feel included in the process without letting the strategy development execution process get away from them.

First, you can run some "brown paper" sessions with frontline staff where you blow up the strategy map, post it on a conference room wall, and ask a group of about 20 staff to place sticky notes on the themes or objectives where they see their daily work fitting into the strategy. If employees have a hard time finding where they fit in, it can spark a useful, more in-depth conversation about the strategy map and objectives.

Personal Balanced Scorecards

A second, and in my opinion, better option is to involve employees once the enterprise Balanced Scorecard is complete. Managers and supervisors should ensure that all employees understand the strategy map and scorecard. Then employees should be instructed to create their own "personal" Balanced Scorecard.

To create their personal BSCs, staff should select three to five objectives from the enterprise strategy map that they feel they can help the organization achieve. They should aim to keep it "balanced" across the four perspectives of the map and they should establish cause-and-effect relationships between their contribution and the strategic results sought by the organization. To do this, they should develop personal objectives that align to the organization's objectives and then measures and targets they will use to determine whether they are achieving their objectives.

Once employees have developed this personal scorecard, they should have a conversation with their supervisors to ensure it aligns to the goals of the organization and is within the employees' influence. This exercise will both enable frontline employees to contribute to the strategy management framework and establish their connection to the enterprise strategy.

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