Countdown to Christmas: Day 17 – Strategic plans

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Countdown to Christmas: Day 17 – Strategic plans

How does your company communicate its annual strategic plan? What works well for you and how involved are your employees in the process?

Today’s guest article as part of my Advent series to countdown to Christmas was first published in April this year and features Hilary Castle from Moat Housing Association looking at how to communicate a strategic plan and sharing what they’ve been doing internally…

How to communicate a strategic plan

Hilary Castle @hilaire_chateau, (pictured) is Communications Manager at Moat Housing Association in the UK, which works to provide affordable homes and services for people in housing need.

HilaryI spotted her tweets that hinted at some of the work currently happening in her organisation to communicate their plan. I wanted to know more, so asked her to guest blog on what they are doing and am delighted to share her story here.

Hilary has been at Moat @moathomes for five years (she even left and came back!). She manages media relations, internal communication, social media and a few things in between. Her current focus is the communication of Moat’s strategic plan to all staff.

Over to you Hilary…

Planning a premiere

As in many organisations, internal communication of the annual strategic plan has historically been a tricky task. Not because staff are disinterested, but because (as with annual reports and financial statements), you do it every year – how to make this year the one when people don’t just listen, but engage?

Back in early 2013, we decided that for staff to be engaged with the communication of our plan, they had to be genuinely involved.

That meant inspiring, discussing and collecting ideas from nearly 400 colleagues across seven offices, before sifting through to pull out final themes and translate it all into the final plan.

Essentially, our programme looked like this:

moat

We worked with local creative consultancy Woodreed and together decided that workshops would provide the right forum for the idea gathering stage. We went on to conduct 20 workshops, with 12 senior team member presenters, with 341 colleagues.

It was important that presenters weren’t external – this was going to be our plan, created and owned by all of us.

Colleagues were taken through our strategic foundation and reminded of our values and ambition:

Strategic pillars

Tables were assigned to each strategic pillar (Our customers, Our communities, Our people, Our expertise, Our company strength and Our partners and stakeholders) and attendees were asked to take turns at each, submitting idea sheets to ‘pillar leads’ and explaining the background to their idea.

No one had to describe in detail how something would be implemented, just why it was necessary and how it fitted with our business and values.

Understand and translate

The same 12 senior team members took ownership of each pillar in pairs. They collected the idea sheets relevant to their pillar from all 20 workshops and tracked patterns and themes before using these to create tangible aims for the final plan.

It was heartening to see so many similarities emerging across teams, departments, and geographic regions in terms of their input.

Clearly, Moatees knew their business and wanted only to make it the best it could be. In our strategic plan, they’d been given the chance.

Communicate

Simple right? The plan’s signed off, staff got involved, job done!

Not at all.

VIPNow we had to get everyone bought into the final plan, which meant some kind of Moat-wide programme of mandatory events. Having already used workshops to create the plan, we settled on something slightly different.

Last week, everyone across Moat received one of these – a VIP invitation to a screening of ‘Strategic Plan: towards our ambition’.

Regional offices will each have a dedicated screening, and colleagues based at our main office have a choice of six dates. The personalised invitations arrived on desks attached to lanyards coloured to match our values – a palette already recognised by staff thanks to use across our internal channels and a recent paint job at our main office!

The film itself is in production with Resource Housing as we speak and includes footage or voiceovers from 23 members of staff, filmed across 4 jam-packed days traversing the South East of England.

Screenings will take place from 12 May for three weeks and premiere guests will be treated to popcorn and soft drinks, and a post-screening Q and A with some of the film’s stars.

What’s next?

We’re all really excited about the screenings – we got 191 RSVPs within 24 hours which is over half of Moat’s employees! But the project isn’t over when the popcorn’s all gone.

We will provide updates against objectives and targets via the fortnightly staff bulletin, the intranet (which is currently being revamped) and our monthly management cascade.

We’ll also make sure that the plan is part of this year’s staff conference in November and we’ll make the film available via our intranet for new starters.

Moat’s values and ambition influence every aspect of the way we work and through the creation, communication and delivery of our strategic plan; we have high hopes that they’ll come through everything we deliver to customers too.

Post author: Hilary Castle.

Thank you for sharing your story Hilary. A few things stood out for me, particularly the planned longevity of your comms around the strategic plan – all too often you hear of campaigns that focus on communicating in a defined period of time and then it goes silent before the next year rolls round and the comms activity cranks up a gear again. Refreshing to hear that’s not the case here and I wish you the best of luck for the weeks ahead.

I hope the screenings go well and would love to see a copy of the film if you’re able to let us see it (after your employees have of course!).

How do you communicate your strategic plan? If you would like to offer insights into how your company communicates internally, do please see my guest article guidelines and you’re welcome to get in touch with your idea for a guest article. You can also comment below or find me on Twitter @AllthingsIC.

Thanks again Hilary.

Update 24 June 2014:
Hilary has just blogged now the films have been shown. How did it go? What did employees think? Read all about it.

Want to read more articles by comms pros? I’ve featured 100 on my blog over the years and you can find them all here.

Further reading on my blog:
How to write an internal communication strategy
Looking ahead to #thefuturestory event on 7 May – with 25% off for my blog readers
How to conduct an internal communication audit
Listen to my latest internal comms podcast
Employee advocacy goes under the microscope
Glossary of internal communication.

Rachel.

Published on All Things IC blog April 2014, republished December 2014.

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