By Chally Kacelnik
Well functioning organisations need strategic plans that flow down to their process rules, roles, and corporate ways of working within well designed systems. Unfortunately, a lot of organisations don’t do this well, or even view strategic plans as things that need to be ticked off before they can get back to the “real work” – yes, that’s a direct quote from more than one person. It’s often those organisations that have a lot of chaotic practices, team silos, and unhealthy power dynamics bubbling away not too far below the surface.
If there is not a common understanding of what everyone needs to be doing, then you cannot expect everyone to be working towards common goals. Here’s how this can play out – these are all real and recent examples that I have encountered.
- Expectations are not effectively set for and communicated to employees. As a result, employees are not consistently held to account – and attempts to consistently enforce this tend to hit a brick wall
- Leaders perform work outside of the work of their roles. They might dip down and be too hands on in their team, doing work for them, or a leader may end up straying into a colleague’s patch
- People who are seen as particularly capable or experts are constantly interrupted from tasks and their core work, often to answer questions and do tasks that should rightly be done by others
- In the absence of stated corporate ways of working, there’s a lot of tiptoeing around and effort expended in working around individual practices, personalities, or preferences
Poor role clarity, poor behavioural and performance management, burnout, lack of individual career progression, excessive handoffs, and lower job satisfaction are all very real risks in a situation like this… not to mention a constrained capacity to get the work done.
It’s no good having a bright vision of the future if you can’t articulate the steps to get there. If your strategic plan, and the plans that link into it, aren’t working in practice, then you need to start correcting that immediately. Anything else risks a lot of waste and disappointment. What’s really exciting about this is that people are generally pretty keen to set up boundaries, expectations, and good, fair practices while committing to a future to which their work meaningfully contributes. Gather their contributions and build out a realistic, comprehensive plan with timing and measures. It’ll change the way you work.