29th September 2020

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Categories: Engage for Success Blog

Working Virtually For Success

In late-2019 selected members of the EfS TAG Steering Group were asked to work together on an EfS strategy refresh, to be submitted to the EfS Core Team and Board for approval. The refresh was approved on 1 April, and this is how the team worked together – virtually – to produce and then present the final document.

The objective

To develop an EfS 2020-2023 strategy that provides clarity of direction and priorities for stakeholders, plus creation of an initial short-term draft action plan (6-months), based on the refreshed strategy.

The approach

As you would expect, the team were keen to adhere to the enabler of employee voice, so engaged the EfS community for their input! This included a workshop at the EfS volunteers’ event in December 2019; interviews with Board members, workshops with the Steering Group and Core Team, conversations and feedback with the Regional Leads; and an EfS literature review. Armed with all this evidence, the team set to work.

How the team worked together

The team consisted of: Fiona Anderson, Paul Beesley, Lyda Modiano, Sally Tanner and Nicholas Wardle. With five strong personalities on-board, with a wealth of comms and engagement experience, there was a real danger of too many comms cooks spoiling the strategy; but this was alleviated by defining and agreeing clear roles and responsibilities upfront, and the channels and regularity of communications. Fortnightly Zoom meetings were scheduled to check upon progress, to discuss any pain points, and to offer any extra support if people’s ‘day jobs’ were impacting upon capability to deliver. As the delivery date drew closer, additional Zoom meetings were held, as well as some splinter meetings, where only those focussing on a specific action were involved. The Core Team were kept updated upon progress, and periodic review sessions were held. On 1 April, the team worked together to present the strategy to the board – via Zoom, of course, – and it was willingly accepted.

A few days after the strategy was signed off, the team held a review session, using Mentimeter as a prompt, discussing what worked well, and what could be improved. The main themes were:

  • What worked well: high trust, clarity of tasks, teamwork, openness
  • Even better if’s: more time available, seeking greater clarity up-front from Core Team about their requirements

Back when the project started, no one had heard of Coronavirus, yet the way the team worked is exactly how millions of people are now (forced to be) working. Zoom is all the rage, and established good practice is to have regular check-ins with team members, both to see how things are progressing, but also to check upon people’s wellbeing.

The strategy

Using the evidence, the approach was to refresh the existing EfS strategy and build on what already existed namely:

  • The EfS purpose statement: Inspiring people and workplaces to thrive
  • The four enablers: Strategic Narrative, Engaging Managers, Employee Voice, Integrity
  • The existing EfS strategic outcomes, the 3I’s: Inspire/Influence/Impact
  • The three strategic themes defined by the EfS Board in November 2019: Health and Wellbeing/Good work/People Productivity

A strategic matrix, consisting of a framework of strategic outcomes and themes, and a draft action plan were produced. These will be communicated via the EfS Comms Hub soon. The team also made some recommendations aimed to further strengthen the volunteer movement’s independent ethos, whilst consolidating EfS’ undisputed national and worldwide expertise on the topic of employee engagement.

The team expresses thanks to all those who gifted their time to contribute and provide feedback to the strategy. It was a true EfS-wide effort.

Personal reflections

“I was thrilled to be offered the opportunity to be involved in the Strategy Refresh. With a shared passion and purpose as our foundation, our newly created virtual team of volunteers worked seamlessly to achieve the plan and deadlines. Trust and commitment were key to our way of working.”

Fiona Anderson

“Mutual trust, fun and commitment can create magic. As an ‘EfS Strategy Refresh’ team, this pretty much describes our journey.”

Lyda Modiano

“One of the main reasons I joined the movement was to have the opportunity to learn from other engagement professionals. I learned so much during this project from the team, and for that I am thankful.”

Nicholas Wardle

“If you’re not on Zoom, then you’re not in the room. (Yes, remote working does work.)”

Paul Beesley

“Using our combined strengths as a team to get EfS onto the next stage of its journey was both powerful and rewarding; amplified by the contributions, energy and passion of the wider EfS community.”

Sally Tanner

Photo Credit: mohamed Hassan from Pixabay