Articles on: Action Planning

How To Start Action Planning

Action planning to improve engagement and culture should not be overwhelming. It’s pretty straightforward. Identify a small number of activities and tasks which you and your employees will undertake, identify someone responsible for each action or task, and provide a timeline. That’s it.

At TalentMap, we don’t want action planning to be an onerous or difficult process. We want you to spend the time on what matters, and that is doing the things in the plan. It is only by taking action that you will improve engagement and culture.


Develop an action plan that is inclusive, realistic, and focused on the themes which, when implemented, will improve employee engagement and culture.

How To

While developing the action plan itself is pretty straightforward, we need to make sure that the actions and tasks that are in the plan will have the desired effect, i.e. when we do these things, employee engagement will improve. TalentMap has over 20 years’ experience helping organizations develop action plans that work. Here are the key success factors that we have learned along the way.

Include employees in the action planning process. In fact it is better that employees lead that process. It may be a lot quicker to come up with actions on your own, but employees won’t “buy-in” unless they feel they have had a hand in those suggestions. We invite you to share those ideas with employees and embark on a process that employees make their own.

Focus on the drivers of engagement. Employees will often want to address issues that frustrate them; the “pet peeves”. While remedying these may improve satisfaction in the short-term, they won’t necessarily improve the emotional connection that motivates and engages. The survey results are very clear. Focus your action planning on the drivers.

Keep it short. Less is really more in this instance. Identify only two or three actions that employees believe will improve engagement in your group, and do them. Once their done, you can move on to more.

Preach what you practice. We’ve all heard the saying “practice what you preach”; we turned it on its head to say that you need to communicate what you’re doing to improve engagement, and shout out that you’re doing it because you’re listening to what employees have said in the survey. Even if you undertake very successful initiatives, if employees don’t see the link between those initiatives and what they said in the survey, their engagement may not increase as a result.

An action plan that follows these principles will almost certainly lead to success.


Convene an Employee Engagement Working Group
As stated above, this is about employee engagement and culture. Therefore employees should lead this effort to have the greatest impact. Assuming your area of responsibility is more than 10 people (if 10 or less, everyone is in the group), call for volunteers to serve on this group. Ideally the group shouldn’t exceed 6-8 people, and should include people of all levels and from all areas of your department/division/group. Don’t worry about trying to attract those employees who are less engaged. By calling for volunteers, you will, almost by definition, attract those already engaged. This actually positive, because they will embrace the task with enthusiasm. Also, they don’t work in a bubble - they will be equally aware of the issues which need to be addressed.

Hold First Engagement Working Group Meeting and Draft a Terms of Reference
The group must come together and determine what they will be responsible for, what they are going to do, and how often they need to meet. Typically, these groups:
Take responsibility for consulting their employee colleagues
Shepherd the action planning process
Take responsibility for implementing various tasks, and/or finding others who will work with them
Meet regularly to discuss progress and adjust the action plan accordingly
Work with TalentMap to measure progress through a pulse survey or another employee engagement survey.

Convene One or More Action Planning Sessions
An action planning session needs to have a few ingredients to be successful. First, you probably need about six or more people (and as many as about fifty) to create the group dynamic needed. The more people involved, the more ideas you will generate, and most importantly, the greater the employee buy-in will be to the initiatives that emerge from the session. Also, there should be at least one member of the senior leadership participating. This lends credibility to the session, but also greatly improves the chances that the emerging ideas will be endorsed by leadership.

Second, you need to use techniques to “flatten the hierarchy” in the room and create the appropriate environment so employees come forward with ideas.

Ideas should be written down first without names, and evaluated by the group later. This ensures that ideas aren’t judged based on the person who puts them forward, and creates a safe environment for all ideas.

Third, you need a mechanism to prioritize and select the best ideas, since a good ideation process should generate many ideas, but only a very few of these will be implemented.

Finally, in order to be successfully implemented, your action plan needs someone to take ownership and responsibility, and commit to a timeline.

TalentMap has developed and successfully conducted many of these action planning sessions. For more information, click here.

Document Your Ideas
Your action planning session(s) will have created many, many ideas, as well as the final list of action initiatives which the group selected to promote further. It is important that all the ideas be documented for future reference.

Present Action Plan to Leadership
Leadership endorsement is critical to any initiative. If there was leadership participation in the action planning session, then you should have an advocate around the Leadership table.

Implement and Review Progress
The Employee Engagement Working Group should now take on a promotion and monitoring role. Working group members should act as ambassadors within their areas to communicate and promote the action initiatives. The Working Group should also meet periodically (monthly) to discuss implementation, address obstacles, and potentially implement new ideas as other ideas are implemented.

To help you get started or to keep the momentum going, there is great content in this Knowledge Base. Please feel free to contact should you have any questions.

Updated on: 11/18/2022

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