Spreadsheets are hardly engaging
Port Moody is not new to strategic planning. The City Manager’s office has maintained a strategic approach to delivering service excellence, but engaging staff in executing strategic plans has not always been so successful.
“General managers experienced difficulty managing prior plans, because all their tasks and projects were tracked in Excel. The process was overly complicated, cumbersome and time-consuming,” explained Ian Smedley, who joined as the City of Port Moody’s new Corporate Planning Advisor earlier in the year.
“People were finding it incredibly difficult to provide updates in spreadsheets. They really felt it took more time to provide the updates than it took to do the work. So, there was not a lot of success in engaging general managers with previous plans.”
In 2019, city leadership sought to build greater strategic momentum. In May, City Council and management identified five strategic priorities in a facilitated workshop: (1) exceptional service, (2) environmental leadership, (3) healthy city, (4) economic prosperity and (5) community evolution. These strategic priorities were presented to general managers and supervisors, who then identified the key projects to operationalize the plan.
With this new 2019-2022 Council Strategic Plan in hand, “city managers were interested in doing something different,” said Ian. They knew spreadsheets were a limiting factor. “That’s why we engaged Envisio.”
How Port Moody achieved 100% employee engagement
In June, the world-class customer success team at Envisio facilitated an action planning workshop with city management and general managers. By August, the new 2019-2022 Council Strategic Plan found its home in Envisio. Ian described their newfound success in executing the strategic plan,
“City managers and staff received training on how to use Envisio in September. On October 4th, we scheduled our first Strategic Plan update. We had 100% of our employees provide their updates! We were really excited about that! I think it showcased how engaged and enthused the staff are in our new process.”
While most organizations still struggle with employee engagement, Port Moody is defying all the trends. According to the latest Gallup research, only 34% of workers are engaged at work. Gallup reports that 13% are “actively disengaged workers who have miserable work experiences.” And, “the remaining 53% of workers are in the “not engaged” category. They may be generally satisfied but are not cognitively and emotionally connected to their work and workplace; they will usually show up to work and do the minimum required.” Not ideal.
How did Port Moody break the norm? Let’s explore Port Moody’s secret to 100% employee engagement and Ian Smedley’s four key success factors.
Key success factor #1: Leadership participation
It turns out that city managers hold the key to employee engagement. In 2019, Gallup research confirmed that “70% of the variance in a team’s engagement is related to their management. Managers create the conditions that promote the behaviors of engaged employees.” Ian absolutely agrees,
“There are several reasons we were so successful in getting 100% employee engagement on this strategic plan. The first, and I think one of the most important factors, is our leadership participation and buy-in for the projects and the strategic plan.”
“City leaders had experienced challenges with previous plans,” reiterated Ian. “So, they were really invested in ensuring that this strategic plan saw success. Not only were they leading and championing the new process, they were actively participating in the success of the strategic plan, the projects and the updates in Envisio. That really made a big difference.” With the full weight of management behind him, Ian readily engaged with managers on the strategic plan. The tone at the top made an impact.
Key success factor #2: Narrow, focused scope
It’s important to target efforts on what matters most. “Previous attempts to track progress on the strategic plan had focused on far too many projects,” explained Ian.
“Today, we’re focusing on the 30% of the work that the city does that’s related to the strategic plan – it includes 97 projects. Staff are doing lots of other operational work, but we’re really focusing on ensuring that we’re successful in tracking and measuring the strategic plan projects. These projects are the most important. This narrow, focused scope has been really critical in ensuring we achieve success.”