Nine Ways to Make Your Work Plans Work!

Robin Henry

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'Where do you want to go today?’ asks Microsoft's advert. When Microsoft wrote that they knew that many people and firms have no idea where they want to go, or more importantly, how they will get there.

This item touches on work planning and presents a few ideas for you to consider when planning for your department or small business. Surprisingly, the benefits of strategic and operational planning are often overlooked. Many firms which spend money on planning often make it a once per year task and then, having developed their plans, let them sit unused on a shelf, in a file, or in drawer.

Each year they pull them out, dust them off and go through the planning process again only to see them filed away at the end of the process? Why? There are various reasons including: the organisational culture doesn't support planning; the plans are irrelevant; they are too complex or too lengthy; they are unachievable.

Some time ago I reviewed and rewrote a Work Plan (Operational) for a small organisation. It reminded me that throughout the years I have always planned within areas for which I have had responsibility. Planning helps avoid crises and achieve outcomes. Here are some tips for your work planning.

TIP ONE: Make sure you find out what policies, plans and procedures exist in your organisation that should be taken into account in your work plan. For example, is there a corporate plan, information technology plan, diversity plan, safety plan? If you don't take into account existing plans, policies and procedures, you may plan to do something that is unacceptable, unhelpful to the organisation, or otherwise counterproductive.

TIP TWO: Don't overplan. What's overplanning? Overplanning is producing a plan that has hundreds of key achievement objectives. Make your plan large or small enough to be achievable with your existing or expected future resources.

TIP THREE: Make your planning document in two parts. Part one contains any information you wish to include about your organisation, it's mission, how you determined the key achievement items etc. Make part two, or an attachment, the work plan proper. That way you can circulate or update the attachment without all the PR stuff .

TIP FOUR: Use a simple, tabular layout. Headings could be something like: Item No - Objective - How you will achieve the objective - When you will achieve it - How you will know you have achieved it - Who will be responsible

TIP FIVE: Don't include the routine in your plan. If you sell scrambled eggs and have been doing it very well for years, for heaven's sake don't waste your time creating a work plan that states how you will sell scrambled eggs. Focus your planning on issues you have that need to be resolved eg, strategies to increase market share.

TIP SIX: Make your plan the focus for your work efforts. This seems trite, but really, you need to integrate your plan into your daily work routine. Place a standing agenda item on planning in your staff meetings; schedule review meetings each month, quarter or less frequently.

TIP SEVEN: Ensure those affected by the plan share ownership. This can be done by seeking their help in developing, implementing and evaluating the plan. Make different people personally responsible for specific outcomes and link it with their performance management agreement.

TIP EIGHT: Think about having a limiting framework for your plan eg, ‘. . . our work plans will have no more than three key achievement focii, three levels of strategy and three action statements per plan.

TIP NINE: Celebrate your successes! When you achieve something in your plan, celebrate in some small way . . . give yourself a pat on the back. It does wonders. If you keep the above tips in mind when writing your work plan, you should produce a worthwhile and useful document.

Copyright 2005 Robin Henry

Robin Henry is a human resources and development specialist, educator and Internet marketer. He operates his online business Desert Wave Enterprises ( from Central Australia, but is at the time of writing, on assignment in the United Arab Emirates.


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