Strategy: your responsibility and accountability action plan

Strategic Planning
Tuesday 22nd August 2023

Strategy: your responsibility and accountability action plan

Strategic Planning
Tuesday 22nd August 2023
Written by Steve Roxby

Proper prep is vital for successful strategic planning. But your business’ strategic plan will never come to fruition without effective implementation. 

Effective implementation means figuring out how best to execute the strategies and tactics outlined in your plan to achieve the desired goals and outcomes. 

It involves translating your strategic vision and objectives into actionable steps and allocating resources. It also means assigning responsibility and accountability to individuals and teams to ensure things get done.  

So let’s explore how you can best go about this based on our experience in business and in helping countless others. 

Responsibility versus accountability 

For clarity, let’s first define exactly what we mean by responsibility and accountability. While they’re two closely related terms, they do have distinct differences. 

What is responsibility?

Responsibility is about each person and/or team taking ownership of the different roles, tasks and duties assigned to them from your strategic plan. 

When a person is in charge, they have the authority to make decisions and take actions related to their assigned tasks. Their job is to ensure they’re completed and successful. 

What is accountability?

Accountability is about those responsible for the different tasks within the strategic plan being transparent about their progress, results and any challenges faced.

It involves asking questions such as:

  • Why did this happen?
  • What did I learn? 
  • How can we improve? 

To sum up, responsibility is about doing the work; accountability is being answerable for the work and its outcomes. 

Take responsibility as leader—and delegate

Someone needs to take responsibility for your strategic plan’s plan.

Ultimate responsibility falls to directors and shareholders. For it to be successfully carried out, shouldering this is crucial. You need to have input into it and be fully engaged.

As an owner, you should: 

  • Create detailed action plans for each goal and objective in your plan –Ensure tasks are given time allowed to complete them
  • Assign roles and responsibilities – Who is going to do what and when? If you don’t have certain skills in-house, consider external providers. Marketing and IT are two examples
  • Document the plan and provide copies of key targets that apply to the individuals and teams responsible for them
  • Hold robust discussions to challenge and enhance the plan 
  • Commit to providing appropriate and adequate resources and training to fulfil or carry out the plan (see our related blog on resource planning)
  • Prioritise the agreed actions

The last point is a big one. We know only too well how easy it is to say, ‘We’re busy’ and not go ahead with what needs to be done. 

Get everyone on board

You also need to communicate the plan to key stakeholders—and ensure everyone is in agreement. This isn’t always easy, we know! 

Importantly, you need to get your team members invested; you need buy-in.  Here are some tips for doing this successfully:

  • Communicate clearly – Share your strategic plan's goals, objectives, and benefits in a clear and relatable manner. Use simple language and real-life examples to help people understand how their contributions align with the bigger picture.
  • Show their impact – Illustrate how each person’s role contributes to the plan's success. People feel more motivated and invested when they see the direct connection between their work and your business goals.
  • Involve them – Encourage employees to provide input and suggestions during the planning process. They’re more likely to support and engage with the plan when their opinions are valued.

You can also do the same for clients/customers and suppliers as appropriate.

A big takeaway here is to make sure you talk positively about the plan and achieving it. Confidence is contagious. If you think you can do it, you can. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.   

After responsibility comes accountability

So now your plan of action is in place, and everyone is on board and knows what their responsibilities are, what next? You need to encourage accountability. Without accountability, responsibility can flounder. 

Ensuring employee accountability in carrying out a strategic plan involves fostering a culture of responsibility, setting clear expectations, providing support, and establishing mechanisms for monitoring progress.

It’s achieved by: 

  • Clearly defining roles and responsibilities
  • Setting clear goals and objectives
  • Good communication of its importance
  • Providing adequate training and resources
  • Encouraging ownership
  • Setting KPIs that reflect progress and success
  • Regular check-ins and feedback sessions

In addition to this, we also recommend that you appoint someone in your business to ‘champion’ the plan. Your accountability champion should ensure everyone, including you, is held accountable.

This includes affirming the focus and the importance of progressing the plan.

Monitoring and reviewing the plan

As well as having a champion who can ensure stuff gets done, you should continually monitor and review your plan more broadly as a business.

But how often should you do this, and who should do it?

Shareholders and directors should receive regular updates on progress. We recommend your champion checks in with your teams about their tasks weekly. They can then report back to you. External providers also require careful monitoring. 

As owner, you should be reviewing things at least quarterly. Major milestones or critical points in the implementation process should also trigger a more thorough review. 

By reviewing and monitoring your plan, you can address any challenges and make adjustments as needed. It’s good to continually refocus or reset, a bit like a rolling forecast. Always look 12 months or so in advance. 

Don’t forget to celebrate!

Last but not least, don’t forget to celebrate the successes. 

Successes can include tasks completed along the way and significant milestones. Recognising and rewarding people for hitting individual and team goals is a great way to maintain the momentum of motivation and engagement.

How you choose to do it is up to you. It could be vouchers, paid time off, employee of the month, personalised gifts or team lunches and activities. 

Really think about what would motivate your team. If you don’t know, ask. 

Responsibility and accountability

Successfully implementing your strategic plan means taking responsibility and accountability as a business owner and delegating company-wide. 

By taking the lead, assigning tasks and priorities, getting every team member on board, enlisting a champion and celebrating success, you can ensure things get done and give yourself the best chance of achieving your goals and vision. 

If you’d like an informal chat about responsibility and accountability in implementing your strategic plan, reach out to your Maxim advisor or get in touch with our team. We can also refer you to our network of external providers.