Positive strategic planning motivation supports corporate strategy.
Even imperfect strategic planning improves long-term firm results. Some planning efforts do not improve corporate performance.
Being involved in the process of formulating the strategy can give a stronger sense of ownership of the strategy.
If there are forces undermining the sense of ownership, there will be weaker motivation for strategic planning.
Some bodies, such as cooperatives, and employee share owned businesses, spell out ownership rights and responsibilities. Even in such places, staff may not have a ‘sense of ownership’. By this, I mean, they may not feel a real drive to help the enterprise succeed.
It is not only the law that decides ‘ownership’. A sense of ownership comes from feeling part of what is going on. Feeling the organization is doing something worthwhile helps. Another factor is being in an organization that has high standards of corporate and personal conduct.
Managers must also speak and behave in ways that show they value participation in strategic planning. If not they may weaken strategic planning motivation. Even worse, they may stir up distrust of strategic planning.
When I ask people how they feel about strategic planning, I hear things such as - “investment in the future,” “feel more part of a larger team,” “opening up the process seems bogus, the managers will do what they want to anyway,” “It is great to be asked for my opinion”, and so on.
The spread of motivations obviously grows with the size, geographic scope, and complexity of the organization. However, even fairly small enterprises can experience diverse reactions to the efforts of managers to increase motivation in strategic planning by striving for a greater sense of ownership of the process and the plan.
Sometimes it is a challenge for those who own the enterprise to get motivated for strategic planning.
People vary in their motivation to become involved in strategic planning. They also vary in their drive to carry out the strategies in the plan. Here are some of the ways of building up or undermining motivation for planning -
There is a lot of room for improvement in the way top managers involve more people in formulating and executing strategic plans! Most organizations can enhance strategic planning motivation, and thereby improve the quality of the strategic planning process, and the effectiveness of strategic plan implementation.
In my experience, fully a third of top managers in organizations never seek the advice on strategic issues from their members or colleagues. Perhaps another third make only token efforts, or even indulge in a charade of consultation.
Participating in the strategic planning process can have a remarkable effect on employee engagement in the organization.
In the many years I have been consulting on and facilitating strategic planning processes, I have seen some occasions when top management decided to involve all the other managers in at least some of the workshops. They got many employees involved in organization-wide data collection effort that would shape the future plans of the direction of the enterprise. The level of positive reactions from all concerned was amazing. The lift in strategic planning motivation was not only personally motivating for the employees, but to also for the executives in the leadership team as well.
The major way to enhance strategic planning motivation and to encourage a high level of interactivity to gather, sort, and decide what direction the organization should go is the SWOT analysis workshop.
This follows the work of the planning team composed of a handful of top managers led by the CEO to examine past performance, set targets, forecast results of leaving current strategies in place, and measuring the anticipated gap in performance over the next few years. The question then becomes how to address the gaps. The framework for doing this is the strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis.
The point of the SWOT Workshop is to find the key factors the strategies must address.
Additionally, it is a great way to engage the managers below the corporate management team in the building the organization’s strategies. There are two aspects to this -
Therefore, these managers will be able to strengthen strategic planning motivation among others in the organization.
These desirable things will come only if the SWOT analysis discussions involve sincere listening, sense of trust, respect, and good humour. If, in the period after the workshop, the top management planning team appears to disregard the material and suggestions provided during the workshop, strategic planning motivation, and possibly general morale, is likely to fall.
Top management commitment to this kind of participation is crucial to ensuring positive strategic planning motivation among all those who can contribute!
A key to a successful strategic planning is to engage the right people right at the start, and to keep them engaged right through execution of the plans.
The strategic planning process we recommend helps to achieve these things.
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