Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Communicating Action Plans

Accountability is one of the most crucial ingredients when implementing Action Plans. Without accountability for implementing each Action Plan, little or no organizational change will occur. Employees often experience a sense of chaos and uncertainty when their organization makes changes to its current systems and practices, even when those changes are meant to improve the overall work environment. As a result, it is critical to create a communications strategy in conjunction with your Action Plan and to designate a person responsible for implementing the communications plan. Once an Action Plan is set, the plan sponsor and/or the applicable Task Force should host meetings with the qualified employees to present and discuss the Action Plan. These meetings should focus on three simple topics:

The actions to be taken immediately and by whom.
The actions to be taken in the medium- and
longer-term, and the parties responsible for these actions.

Employee recommendations or expectations that cannot be implemented (at least over the short term) and the reasons why the organization cannot meet these expectations at this time. As the implementation process unfolds, it is also important to send periodic updates to employees regarding the status of each major Action Plan item. This communication will lend additional credibility to the survey process by reminding employees that the ideas, suggestions and concerns they expressed were clearly heard and are being acted upon. Just as important, this periodic communication will increase the accountability of those responsible for carrying out the Action Plan. It is important that employees recognize the value of their participation in the survey process by regularly seeing both improvements and progress reports. Remember to share successes so that organization-wide communications can reinforce everyone's efforts and contributions to the process.