By Agnes Mouawad

Every day we hear phrases like employee empowerment and engagement and self-actualization but how do we exactly achieve that? As an HR specialist and consultant, I will detail a true and tested framework to achieving that.

Strategy is formulated in a Top-down approach but is executed Bottom-Up, Leadership formulates the strategy and the employees implement it and achieve it. That being said, senior management should be aware and should acknowledge employees’ role in strategy execution. Strategy should be clearly communicated to all employees to ensure their contribution and engagement. Therefore, Senior management should ensure employees’ understanding of and involvement in the strategy formulation exercise. But “How”?

The Balanced Scorecard Institute stressed in their book “The Institute Way” the importance of employees’ involvement in the strategy exercise stating that one of the eight critical success factors that help organizations achieve breakthrough results using their Nine Steps to Success framework™ is to “Involve employees broadly”. Organizations should consider employees from all functions and at all levels when formulating its strategy to ensure that their ideas are captured. Employees contribution ensure their buy-in and their engagement.

Moreover, in their Harvard Business Review Article “Using the Balanced Scorecard as a Strategic Management System”, Dr. Robert S. Kaplan and Dr. David P. Norton stated that “The better the employees understanding of the firm’s strategy, the better they will be able to use strategically linked performance measures to guide their decisions and actions”. Organization should communicate the strategy to all level employees and involve them in the development of their objectives and KPIs.

To achieve all of the above, strategy is cascaded to employees’ level, where employees help in developing their own objectives and KPIs aligned with the department and organization’s strategic objectives.

Creating employee’s objectives and scorecards is ideally done between the employee, their respective supervisor and the HR function in a workshop environment. The workshop begins by discussing the organization’s strategic objectives, then the respective department’s objective and explore how can the employee contribute to departmental objective. After that, individual behavioral and performance objectives are developed in full-alignment with the department’s objectives creating an alignment link between individual employee work and the department’s strategy. These objectives describe the strategic work each employee does and contributes to. Additionally, these objectives are much more operational in nature and therefore employee objectives should also be aligned with job descriptions, SOPs, workflows and job competencies.

The employee, supervisor and HR specialist need to agree on the created objectives, and after reaching a consensus, develop a set of KPIs and target to each of them. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) help in measuring the progress towards achieving the objectives – they are quantifiable and measurable and help to gauge performance of these objectives.

Strategy execution is Bottom-up; achieving individual objectives indicates a successful achievement of departmental objectives and therefore an achievement of organization-wide objectives, thus strategy.