Unleash the Potential of Your Employees

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Employee Commitment is Determined Early in Your Performance Management Process

Recognition is the number one motivator of employees

"Recognition is the number one motivator of employees," says Erica Olsen, founder of M3 Planning, a nationwide leader in on-demand strategic planning tools and performance management software. "As we enter the strategic planning season, executives should remember that they can unleash powerful output by including their staff in planning exercises and clearly defining roles and responsibilities." Olsen recommends business owners solicit employee input during preliminary planning exercises such as identifying strengths and opportunities as part of an internal assessment like a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats). Her company offers a complimentary SWOT tool for businesses to evaluate their strategic position and look critically at their organization.

Fall is historically the busiest season for strategic planning as many organizations review their past year performance even as they also start planning for a new year. While it may not be possible to always include everyone at the strategic planning table, openly communicating who is involved in what step of the process and why will also help ensure that everyone feels included. "The values and vision of your organization are embedded in the strategic framework so involving the whole organization in at least part of the planning process is vital," says Olsen. "Although everyone can't be involved in every part of the process, they do all play a role."

In addition to including employees in preliminary assessments, she also suggests distributing all of a plan or at least the highlights during a company-wide meeting or also posting a one-page plan summary in a common area of an organization or on a company intranet. "An open approach can generate more helpful ideas and suggestions about the future of your business," adds Olsen. Her company's award-winning online strategic planning system, MyStrategicPlan, facilitates this open communication with easy one-click reporting for all stakeholders. "Helping your employees see the vision that you have for success and growth helps you work toward that goal," says Olsen. "Organizations that have a clear direction have committed people."

Erica Olsen has developed and reviewed hundreds of strategic plans for organizations across the country through M3 Planning's online client base and on-site strategic planning facilitation work. She has also authored several strategic planning books including Strategic Planning for Dummies and was named Entrepreneur of the Year by The Business Report of Northern Nevada in 2007. M3 Planning has established itself as a source for everything related to strategic planning. In addition to their online strategic planning system, the company is also a resource for other strategic planning tools, books, articles, workshops, and facilitations.

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Matthew Kennard
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