ORLANDO, FLA.—When it comes to strategic planning, HR professionals have to move from being the reactive problem solvers within their organizations to being adaptive and proactive, Michael Wilkinson, managing director and founder of Leadership Strategies Inc., told attendees at the 2014 Society for Human Resource Management Annual Conference & Exposition session “Strategy! What Every HR Leader Should Know.”
Wilkinson told attendees his goal was to help them be able to:
- Confidently discuss strategy and strategy components with business unit leaders.
- Apply a strategic planning framework to solving business and HR issues.
- Avoid the common pitfalls that plague many strategic planning efforts.
“If we’re talking about strategy, as HR professionals we have a very important role to play,” he said. “We have to promote, we have to provide and we have to model. We’re often excluded from the room because we talk people; we have to let them know we talk strategy.” And that strategy includes getting people on board to make those strategic plans work.
Key to the success of strategic planning is to determine “what are the key conditions that have to be created in order to effect change and find drivers to break down barriers to get things done,” he said.
For example, he said, let’s say you want to buy a house, but you find faults in the house and want to make changes. You either make changes—such as adding three-and-a-half baths, a private office and a playroom—or you find a home that has those things already.
“Let’s say the house is in Atlanta and it’s going to cost $300,000 and you need a $15,000 down payment, but you’ve only got $10,000 and high credit card balances—that’s a barrier,” he said.
“We can dream about this house … but it’s not going to be our house until we fix our credit and get that money. So now we have critical success factors.
“That means that we have to find a house that someone wants to sell, in a neighborhood we want to live in, at a price we can afford. So we have to overcome the barriers. We only have $10,000 and we need an extra $5,000.
“So we need a strategy—we have a savings plan of $300 a month; we can work weekends, eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and save $300 a month,” Wilkinson said, to laughter from the audience. We can “cut up credit cards and view 10 homes a month.”
“The last driver is the most important driver in any strategic plan and it has one job, and that job is to monitor all the other drivers.”
- Track your progress.
- Make sure your strategies are working.
- Make adjustments.
- Recognize that the vision might change.
- Keep being motivated.
“Start with an accurate picture of today—you have to agree on a common vision,” Wilkinson said. “Let’s agree this is where we’re going so we can marshal our forces in the right directions.”
Aliah D. Wright is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
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