I recently helped a talented friend develop a plan to raise his professional game, rally his colleagues and make a bigger impact toward his company’s goals. A lot of our planning focused on prioritizing, positioning and communicating (my bias, or strength, I suppose).
Admittedly, key strategies for his plan also are ones I live by. Especially when it comes to accomplishing big goals that require engaging disparate teams (or entire companies), a few best practices can make a world of difference.
So I decided to write them down here:
1. Develop your agenda. Develop a clear agenda that expresses what you want to change. Agendas usually are complex and have many moving pieces. However, it’s important to boil them all down to one large theme, and distill three simple goals.
2. Connect agenda to a purposeful narrative. Embed your agenda into a story, particularly one with a big challenge (or enemy) to overcome. People need metaphors to rally their spirits and energies. And you’d be better be passionate about the agenda yourself.
3. Contextualize your agenda with data, facts. Data are key for benchmarking and measuring performance, but they’re also critical for contextualizing why your agenda is important, and why people must support your cause.
4. Engage influential stakeholders early. Include influential team members early and often in the development and rollout of your agenda. Including their perspectives in the development will improve your plan and ensure they fully back it, and they’ll be set up to drive the plan throughout your company.
5. Deploy a communications plan. Similar to marketing to external audiences, you will convert people only with a persuasive value proposition and effective, repeated connections. To make impact, you must communicate in an array and high frequency of formats, including written, oral, live, face-to-face, with anecdotes, with sight, sound and motion — theatrics matter. Most important is word of mouth, so seed it and make sure it happens (and with your influential stakeholders mentioned above). Things become real and enticing when you see others getting involved.
6. Report progress (and hopefully ROI). To justify the high frequency of key communications and sustain momentum, you must engage with progress reports and relevant anecdotes about the journey. It’s better if you can demonstrate ROI, but honest progress reports are foundational.
7. Accept criticism. Be open and responsive to criticism along the way. It’s engaging for others, makes efforts more credible, and it improves them, too.
8. Thank people and thank them again. Thank people because that’s the respectful thing to do. People appreciate it, and it will reinforce their support now and in the future.
9. Close the book. People don’t like open-ended stories and unfinished business. That’s annoying and shows you don’t care. When it’s time, communicate closure. Close the book.
Which best practices help you mobilize teams and accomplish big things?
A version of my essay also ran in MediaPost. Photo: Gueorgui Tcherednitchenko.