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We need a strategy. What is it?

What is a strategy?

More and more clients are asking me to help them develop their strategies. This might be workforce, wellbeing, reward and recognition to name a few, in my specialist field. Two key questions come up each time; what is a strategy? How do we decide what it is?

The first question should be straightforward but surprisingly isn’t. I do think that we have a knack for over-complicating things in business and spending far too much debating the individual words, language rather than focusing on the overall meaning. So, I’ll be bold and state it as I see it.

A strategy is your aspirations and approaches for the longer-term with clear goals which is underpinned by detailed action plans.

Simple and to the point. (Well, I am from Yorkshire!).

The second is around the writing and developing one which takes a bit more time. The second is where I usually get involved and work with each client to agree our approach. A strategy should never be something that is developed and written by just one person as this leads to narrow views and rarely hits the mark. Instead it should be developed by engaging with your workforce and/or key stakeholders to hear a range of diverse views to help shape a strategy that reflects your organisation both internally and taking into account external factors.

How you approach this is critical. Simply having a strategy written by an HR Director who then creates a plan is a sure way not to succeed. I always talk about the ‘how’ and not just the ‘what’. A strategy should be developed by engaging, listening and seeking a variety of views. It then needs to be shared again so that further input from others can be taken into account.

In my experience, a good effective strategy in a business is one that is understood, clear goals and it is owned by your people, at all levels to ensure engagement.

So what next? Once the strategy is agreed then it is essential to decide how it will be delivered through action planning, allocation of responsibilities and key milestones including definitive timescales, measurable outcomes and identifying who is responsible.


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