An action plan in dictionary definition is a detailed plan outlining the actions, which takes us to the desired objectives. Interestingly, in simple terms it is the answer to all, who’s, what’s, how’s, and when’s.
An action plan is a phenomenal effort. Isn’t it? I will prove to you in the next 30 seconds. As a leadership team, the biggest effort, comes in form of the recognition of need, and acceptance of your actual status or scores. It is important to realise where you are before you work towards turning dreams into reality. So if we add it up with the power to make organisational vision into concrete steps, action planning becomes superhuman.
As and when as a people’s leader you have realised that you need corrective steps, it’s time for you to answer some very simple questions. What changes do you require at an organisational level? Who will be instrumental in carrying out these alterations? Who would communicate? What resources would we require? By when can we expect step-by-step results?
The best action plans I have seen or worked on were in present-day, far-reaching, and crystal-clear.
In the last two decades, I have seen most action plans fail because a lot of time is given to answering these simple questions and designing the action plan. The action plan can be of any intervention for example an action plan for an employee engagement survey.
I strongly suggest the 20:60:20 approach. Only spend 20% of your time up to this stage. Yes vision is important but there is more to an action plan.
Definitely remember the importance of having specific accountability, ensure you support each other, communicate, and be very specific in measurement, budgets and dates. This can be instrumental in success in the first stage.
Now comes the most important part of the action plan, the 60% part, and the implementation stage. The Implementation stage is where your maximum people leadership skills are challenged. You need to ensure that you raise consciousness, train effectively your limited resources, and monitor the progress. Monitoring is very critical and involves updates, reviews, and corrective action.
Most action plans according me fail, if we stop the follow through or when we do not clarify what we stand for or when we do not enrol people, or when we do not understand the impending language and its approach.
Simple actions like phone calls, giving print outs, ensuring timelines, and celebrating success steps within team/s can ensure more effectiveness overall. In the impending language or cultural change interventions, leaders need to enrol everyone in to the process, to ensure it becomes a success story. The same can be replicated over and over easily, if you can show in some form the return of investment.
Minute details and knowledge about the culture of the people and being close to them helps you to connect more easily. Build trust and connect emotionally which may lead you to victory. Integrity towards the approach of the change or makeover is very important. Walking the talk and being committed to it, adds to the engagement level. Opening the window of possibility, even in tough times, is the true character of a leader.
The last 20% of the action planning comes when you follow through effectively. There are many good visionary leaders but very few implementers practically, who can follow up. Keeping track of what you have done, and how well you have done is important. Ensuring 100% compliance to the action plan always helps. Just use both formal and informal methods to assess the same.
In this 20% of time, with the right intent and answers, just re-plan, re-correct, and take corrective actions. It is very important for an effective action plan, to be re-corrected, if there are any possibilities, or deviations, and brought back on track.
Most of the time during implementation we realise what mistakes we have made. Dynamic leaders accept what is and correct it, rather than living with it.
If we follow the above, an action plan would definitely become beneficial for the employees, leadership teams, and business. Engagement, efficiency, and profitability will follow automatically. Using the 20:60:20 approach, you can be assured of better time management, and the ability to reach the end goal effectively, most of the time, minimum side tracking, and higher engagement. Every individual would know his/her defined role and alignment to the big picture, i.e. the organisational goals.
Always remember the beautiful lines with deep meaning from Spiderman, ‘with great powers, comes greater responsibilities’.