Who. What. When – Linking Strategy and HR

by: Rene van Diepen

Over coffee, a colleague was lamenting that headway was not being made on key organizational objectives.  As we chatted it became clear that most of the senior management team could easily recite the company’s major objectives and activities. The issue wasn’t confusion about goals; it was in execution.

Sadly, this is how most strategies wind up failing.

Developing a strategy can be challenging, but the heavy lifting is in implementing that great vision created at the offsite retreat. Generally this involves 5 important steps:

  1. Carefully “unpacking” the strategy into component pieces
  2. Defining the major activities that will support the execution of those component pieces
  3. Assigning priorities
  4. Designating leads and accountability
  5. Moving forward to execute and monitor progress.

Oh yes, and let’s not forget that a healthy dose of course correction is usually required to address the inevitable deviations from plan.

Now, what have we missed?

Any strategy is simply a set of integrated choices to pursue some activities and not others. People across the organization are implicated to various degrees by the component pieces and supporting activities of the strategy. So if your implementation plan does not include communicating who will be doing what, when, then failure to achieve objectives is certainly not far off.

Telling who to do what, when, seems so obvious. Yet too often, employees cannot see themselves in the bigger picture or don’t understand how the work they do Monday to Friday contributes to organizational objectives.  As my HR colleague Mike D’Amico outlined in a recent post, a critical task in the “unpacking” exercise is linking your strategy to your human resources.  Your performance management program is an important communication tool to ensure that staff members are confidently advancing the ball towards the major goals in your strategic plan.

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