Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Action Planning Task Force Tips

Your engagement survey is done. You have your results. What now? Since you alone cannot do all the action planning, who is going to help so that all the talk about employee engagement was not in vain?

In order to be effective across the organization, of course, no single person should be responsible for all aspects of the Action Planning process. Insightlink recommends recruiting individual Task Forces for each of your organization’s major opportunities for improvement.

Task Force members will work together as a team to:

Create an Action Plan, including specific action items designed to address the key opportunities (within their designated major area of opportunity)

Share the plan with all employees (at least those impacted). You can either share with the organization as a whole or at a department/site/functional unit level, but do share!

Work diligently to implement each of the action items in a timely way, including monitoring the progress on each item

Help to assess success for each action item at the end of the process

Although the anticipated time commitment from Task Force members is generally about 4-6 hours per month over a 3-6 month period, as an HR insider, you should assess this yourself and manage the expectations of those who are involved.

Ideally, when “recruiting,” look for Task Force team members who are:

Highly creative/articulate individuals who are more likely to come up with “out-of-the-box” solutions
People with high energy and enthusiasm, who tend to get things done and keep others excited
Good team players
Able to devote the necessary time to the process
Skilled in what it takes to develop solutions, especially those with special expertise in the areas of concern
Able and willing to implement the necessary corrective actions

Each Task Force should hold regular Action Planning meetings that focus on setting goals and deciding on viable action items. Some useful tools and tips for effective goal setting are:

Brainstorming: Encourage diverse ideas and don’t censor any suggestions. Record all the ideas given and potential solutions offered, since even the strangest suggestion may represent the “germ” of a worthwhile solution. “Good” ideas are the end product of a process of evolution that usually starts with ideas that are flawed … often seriously. (“Idea Generation”)

Strategizing: Take the opportunity to “grow” flawed ideas by identifying the positives, including 1 or 2 advantages that are not immediately obvious. At this stage, both wishes and concerns are powerful sources for raising the ceiling on ideas. (“Appraisal that Adds Value”)

Removing Barriers: Start to tailor and transform the idea to keep the positives while eliminating the flaws. (“Tailoring and Transforming”) Each Task Force should be responsible for producing a written Action Plan that outlines what specific action items to implement to address the goals agreed to by the Task Force.

Each action item needs to include the following to ensure accountability and progress:
Completion Target Date – Target dates are dependent upon your best estimate of when the action steps will be completed. They can range from almost immediate for the “quick hits” to very lengthy for more serious issues.

Responsibility – Every action plan should have an “owner” who is accountable for the outcomes and the final results.

It is also essential to regularly update your Action Plans, so that you, your stakeholders and your employees can see the progress being made. Recognize, though, that circumstances may require you to change your timeline because of new discoveries or unidentified barriers.

Remember this is a team effort. Don’t forget to share best practices! Learn from your colleagues on what has worked well (or not so well) with their Action Plans.