Action Planning Strategy
A Framework for Turning Insight Into Action
Newmeasures had the opportunity to partner with one client, a healthcare organization, to track the impact of action planning over a period of several years. By employing a well-executed action planning process with a focus on engagement drivers, this organization improved their engagement scores from 55% to 79% over an eight-year period. From a benchmarking perspective, we saw this organization move from the 6th percentile to the 86th!
While it is encouraging to see such success cases, we’ve also seen some clients struggle with action planning. In fact, according to a 2020 report from the Human Capital Institute, 66% of organizations collect feedback from employees but only 33% report taking meaningful action.2
- Employees feel action is not being taken
- Leaders aren’t seeing results improve fast enough
- No way to know if (or which) efforts lead to meaningful improvement
- Lack of executive support for actioning
- Leadership not holding managers accountable
- Leaders and managers only action plan because "HR makes me"
- Process of interpreting and acting on the data can be overwhelming to managers
Stage 3 is sometimes referred to as the waterfall or cascade approach. At this stage, the senior leadership team prioritizes org-wide opportunities and leaders at all levels take action on those priorities.
One project leader told us “We focus globally and plan locally. We try to keep the firm focused on 1-2 key areas, so efforts are concerted, coordinated, and efficient. Leaders set their own goals to tie into the firm's priorities. That way we are not creating a bunch of new initiatives.”
Recently, we’ve seen many client organizations who want to improve with regard to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I). In addition to making changes at the company level, they also encourage each team leader to study their specific DE&I feedback in order to identify changes that will be the most important for their individual work group.
As organizations mature their employee listening programs, many choose to expand responsibility for interpreting feedback and identifying areas of improvement. At this stage, business unit, regional, and/or site leaders identify local-level priorities and own action planning.
In the most advanced version of this stage, every frontline manager is responsible for action planning based on their own team’s specific feedback. This can be a powerful approach because each leader is working on engagement at the level where they can have an impact.
The final stage in our journey framework occurs when employees take ownership for prioritizing opportunities and taking action. This often involves a work team committing to new habits that will improve the work experience for everyone. In other cases, employees volunteer to start resource groups or workstreams designed to address an improvement opportunity.
In this stage, each team or work group manager becomes a facilitator of the process. The key to success is ensuring every leader is trained in the skills of understanding employee feedback, facilitating constructive conversations with their team members, and tying engagement goals to the broader strategic goals of the organization.
Don't Forget Tech!
PepsiCo crowdsourced ideas for their “Process Shredder” and got over a million comments and ideas for new business processes in the company in days, which then led the company to radically simplify the performance process and also start a crowdsourced new beverage product.
Where Do We Start?
We encourage our clients to look at actioning as a three-way partnership involving the survey team, the HR team, and business leaders. Our action planning strategy meetings bring these partners together to assess where the organization is in terms of employee listening maturity, the organization’s readiness for action, and the outcomes they have seen in the past. Together these partners then choose the approach or blend of approaches they will take when orchestrating the action planning process. Our team then helps clients select and activate the technology that best supports and enables the chosen approach.
Just Do Something!
- Qualtrics 2020 Global Trends Report, Qualtrics, 2020
- The Culture-Centric Organization, Human Capital Institute, 2020
- Is The Employee Survey Dead? Nope. It’s Becoming Smarter by The Minute, Josh Bersin, 2020