[Q&A] How do we manage turnover and staffing during strategic planning or plan refreshes?


Q: How do you manage turnover and staffing during strategic planning or plan refreshes?

A: Managing turnover and staffing issues is never easy! This is especially true during strategic implementation.
So, how do you ensure that your new staff members seamlessly transition into your strategic process? We have three suggestions:
1. Ensure your strategy is part of your organization’s culture and the responsibilities are shared across various departments
2. Embed your strategic plan in your onboarding process!
3. Walk your new team members through the historical context of the plan.


Dealing with staffing issues can be tricky and complex for any organization. It can feel especially disheartening for organizations who feel like they are just hitting their stride with their strategic plan implementation.

As roles change and people come and go, how can an organization effectively keep its strategic initiatives on track? Read on for the expert insight our Strategy Collaborative members provided during our AMA session.

Tip #1: Embed Strategy into the DNA of Your Organization

There’s a difference between a strategic plan as merely a document versus your strategic plan as an organic part of your organization.

What we really mean is that a strategic plan isn’t just a document that’s reviewed annually and once over in an onboarding process. A strategic planning and implementation process that’s embedded in your organization looks something like this:

  • Your plan establishes a bold vision of the future and how you’ll get there.
  • Your plan has shared responsibility across your organization. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, but the plan is owned by more than just 1-2 members of your organization.
  • Your organization reviews the performance of your KPIs monthly.
  • You run a quarterly review and refresh. 20% of the time you spend reviewing performance, 80% of the time focusing on how you will make process in the next quarter.
  • You use this opportunity to make strategic decisions.

If you can check the boxes above, onboarding team members into this process will be much easier with an established plan and rhythm.

Tip #2: Distribute Ownership of Your Strategy Across Multiple Levels

When a small group of centralized leaders creates and drives the strategic plan, the impact of staff turnover is felt much more acutely.

However, if the strategic planning process is embedded as part of the organization and there are multiple layers of participants contributing, your organization will be better insulated against the challenges of staff turnover while creating shared commitment.

The organization’s broad participation ensures that the strategy remains intact despite staffing changes.

Tip #3: Cover the Plan in the Onboarding Process

New staffing changes aren’t just overwhelming for the organization filling the roles, but also for the new hires stepping into them.

The success of your new hires obviously A dynamic and well-organized onboarding process, especially as it relates to the strategic plan, makes all the difference.

But, Don’t Overwhelm Your Newcomers

Assigning too many responsibilities to a person who hasn’t started their role or understands the organizational structure can be counterproductive. Instead, assign specific tasks to roles, not individuals, to ensure a smoother transition for newcomers.

Pro Tip:

Instead of linking strategic initiatives or responsibilities to specific individuals, consider attaching them to roles. This ensures continuity regardless of staff changes.

Give Your New Staff Members a Voice

While inheriting responsibilities is a natural part of stepping into a new role, it is vital to allow new staff to feel like they are part of the planning journey. Do this by:

  • Walking them through the historical context of their role and the goals their predecessor was assigned to.
  • Allowing your new team members to voice their opinions or insights about your plan.
  • Adding or editing initiatives where appropriate!

Use Visual Tools and Alternative Forms of Onboarding Documents

There is a time and place for each specific type of onboarding medium. The 50-page document outlining your strategic plan is still important, however not everyone can digest information like that all at once.

Rather than overwhelming new staff with extensive documents, visual representations can quickly impart historical context, allowing for faster catch-up.

Visual tools, like Miro, can provide an effective snapshot of ongoing strategic plans, making them more digestible for newcomers.

Streamlined onboarding can mitigate the challenges of turnover. By providing new team members with the flexibility to review plans at their own pace, you ensure they engage with content when they’re most receptive.

Pro Tip:

One-page strategic plans are magic! Plus, completing this helpful guide can help you communicate your strategy with your entire team [and not just new team members!]


Additional Resources to Consider

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