Why Traditional Action Plans Don't Work

Many of us love to plan!

We feel good creating detailed action plans that lay out our weeks and months ahead. There are challenges with this approach:

  1. We often are not specific enough and so our intentions don’t easily translate into clear action steps.
  2. Situations are always evolving and, often, our plans may no longer be the best course of action.
  3. And, we often bite off more than we can chew, or the goal is more complicated than expected and, as we progress it, the law of diminishing returns kicks in. Our efforts fall flat.
A group of people working

Is there a better way?

We need to shift our thinking from how we think about action planning to investing in a different kind of thinking – one that invites us to consider different ways of undertaking our existing work to make a greater impact and, in our case, in terms of employee engagement results, a material difference.
I have seen far too many employee engagement action plans that look pretty but either:
  1. Sit on the shelf until the next survey approaches. When people frantically trying to make something happen, or
  2. The action items simply don’t have the impact expected.

At Spark’d, we have refocused on PRAXIS, which refers to the philosophy of putting something into practice.

A woman thinking about her work

What practice (i.e., a habit, a repeated behaviour) could you adopt that builds upon your strength or addresses a vulnerable area?

A single but impactful practice will maintain or boost employee engagement more than a detailed action plan that never quite gets traction.

Ask yourself: “What specific practice could we adopt to support the engagement drivers identified?”

  • Need to work on fresh ways to collect creative input from employees? Think of a repeatable, no-budget-required, impactful habit. How about creating a quarterly pitch competition to resource new ideas?
  • Need to focus on career development? Ask managers to invest in high-quality career and high-level feedback conversations with each team member six times a year.
  • Need to integrate engagement conversations into team discussions? Create a framework for team meetings to include a 10-minute engagement check-in once a month. 
Boardroom meeting
Forget detailed action plans! Think about the needs of your organization, the team, the project and develop a thoughtful PRACTICE that, over time, will transform how people work and the results they produce.

TIP: How Robust is Your Practice?

  • Is it repeatable?
  • Will it continue to have impact over time?
  • Is it resilient to budget constraints?


What Is the Spark’d Lens™?

The Spark’d Lens is a ground-breaking discovery based on data and science – validated tens of thousands of times. Like a camera lens, it provides focus, using two important filters – Meaning and Progress; the key ingredients in creating passion at work.

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