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Your 6-step guide on how to make an action plan for management

November 14, 2022 - 16 min read
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    It’s likely we all have goals we’d like to achieve in our professional lives. Sometimes, they start as lofty ambitions. We have an idea of what sort of end result we want to see yet we might not be sure of how we’ll get there. 

    Other times, we have very concrete deliverables. Yet we might not know the path to get there. An action plan to help keep you accountable for achieving your goals is one way to help. An action plan is like a roadmap. It’ll serve as your guide to help you reach all the little steps along the way. 

    With increased collaboration across teams, it’s likely that multiple team members will need to help you reach your goals. In order to keep everyone on the same page, an action plan can help increase team alignment

    If you’re wondering how to make an action plan for project management, we’ll break it down in this guide. We’ll also talk about how to make sure your action plan works effectively. 

    6 steps to make an action plan for management 

    A huge part of strategic planning comes to life with action plans. In order to create an effective action plan, it’s important to work backward from your desired outcome. It’s also important to be realistic about the goals you’re setting, which means making sure they’re both SMART goals and attainable. 

    If you’re ready to get started, follow this step-by-step guide. 

    1. Identify your project goals 

    First, figure out what your desired outcome is. Start to think about the goal from a big-picture perspective. Define what your goal is and from there, you’ll be better equipped to put together an action plan template. 

    2. Outline your key objectives 

    At BetterUp, we use something called objectives and key results (OKRs). It’s a goal-setting framework that helps keep our project planning aligned, especially when collaborating with others. 

    It’s also possible that there are multiple ways to approach the same objective. By outlining your objective, you can start to think through what sort of results you’d like to see as a result of reaching it. From there, it’ll help to firm up your strategic approach to tackling the specific goal.

    3. Break down your action items into smaller tasks 

    Let’s take a look at a simple example to help frame out what this step looks like. For example, your goal is to organize a happy hour event for a prospective client. Your objective for this goal is to help engage this prospective client to become a customer. 

    On its face, this project might seem purely event planning related. Of course, you’ll have to consider things like timeframe, key stakeholders, invitation and guest list, and securing a venue. 

    But you’ll also want to consider things like communication throughout the planning process. For example, what specific steps do you need to take to put together a save-the-date email for your guest list? Can you break down the list of tasks that are bundled underneath each step? 

    This includes things like setting deadlines, delegating tasks, and outlining set milestones. It might end up feeling like a giant to-do list. But in many ways, it’ll give you a better handle on how to put together a management plan that encompasses everything you need to do. The more detailed, the better. 

    how-to-make-an-action-plan-for-management-woman-on-whiteboard-drawing

    4. Assemble your team 

    Like anything in life, reaching goals is almost never a solitary pursuit. In order to ensure your project will be successful, you‘ll need to assemble team members

    Depending on the scope of the project, you might need to do some resource planning. This includes communicating with key stakeholders and setting expectations before the project kicks off. You might also consider outlining dependencies you might need to consider along the way. After all, team alignment is critically important in achieving goals. 

    At BetterUp, we use a decision-making framework called ACID.

    • Approver 

    • Contributor 

    • Informed 

    • Driver 

    There are plenty of decision-making frameworks out there. But at the start of any larger project, we identify the ACID framework to also ensure roles and responsibilities are clear.

    It’s also a good idea to think about how specific tasks will be allocated across your team. It’ll help empower better teamwork to clearly clarify roles and duties. Include things like any time-bound deadlines, too. 

    5. Determine measurable outcomes 

    For any initiative, it’s a best practice to measure its performance. Figure out what metrics you’ll use to gauge the success of the project. 

    Some organizations use things like KPIs to measure the success of an end goal. Others might need to establish some benchmarking metrics before really assessing the performance of a goal. 

    6. Use a project management tool 

    Technology was built to help make us work smarter and better. If your organization uses project management software, take advantage of it. 

    At BetterUp, we use many tools. One tool that we use is Asana to help keep our projects on track. It helps us with everything from task management to time management. It’s also a great way to keep communication lines open with all project members, too. 

    5-steps-resilience-cta

    How to ensure that the action plan will work 

    We’re all probably familiar with plans going sideways. After all, even the best-laid plans will come across obstacles. With accelerated change and fast-evolving priorities, it’s likely you’ll have to stay agile

    In order to do so, we’ve compiled six tips to make sure your action plan is effective. 

    • Set expectations for all team members at the beginning. Communication about expectations, especially at the start of the project, is critical. If you’re the project lead, communicate expectations from the launch. If you’re a team member, don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions. 

    • Communicate more often than you think you need to. Track progress along the way. But more importantly, communicate with your project team members. Promote transparency and visibility, especially when it comes to challenges. 

      For example, if you anticipate missing a due date, communicate ahead of time. At BetterUp, we talk a lot about conscious commitments. At its heart, it’s about communication. If we’re falling behind on a project or need to renegotiate a deliverable, it comes down to effective communication.

      As you work through your action steps and complete tasks, communicate. But more importantly, if you’re coming across hurdles and roadblocks, communicate. A project management tool can help promote visibility across teams, too. 

    • Provide feedback along the way. Continuous feedback throughout the project can be the difference between reaching your goals or missing them. If you think there’s a process improvement, voice your feedback. But also ask for feedback in return.

      Regularly check in with team members to see how things are going for them. By asking for feedback, you’re also establishing psychological safety and trust within the team, too.  

    • Celebrate the small wins along the way. Sometimes, projects can be gnarly. Some projects I’ve worked on have taken months, even more than a year, to complete.

      Especially if it feels like the end is far from near, celebrate the small wins. Include employee recognition as part of your strategy, too. For example, can you celebrate a team member who went above and beyond? How are you taking a moment to celebrate the progress you have made, even if you haven’t yet reached the end goal? 

    • If needed, have a corrective action plan at the ready. Worst-case scenarios are not ideal but they do happen. At BetterUp, we’ve studied something that we call future-mindedness. It’s this idea that you can look ahead to the future with a sense of optimism and pragmatism.

      With change fast-evolving, it’s likely you’ll have to course correct at one point in your project. If needed, have that corrective action plan ready. Stay agile and nimble, especially amid uncertainty and change. 

    how-to-make-an-action-plan-for-management-team-working-on-plan

    2 action plan examples as guides 

    Every workflow will be different depending on the company, roles, and complexity of teams. These project plans are rough plans that could be adopted for use in a project management tool, like Asana. 

    Example 1: Launching a multi-channel campaign 

    Content type 

    Channel 

    Owner 

    Planning document/notes 

    Due date 

    Blog Post #1 

    Blog 

    Person’s name 

    Link to planning document / Blog authored by person about XYZ topic 

    Insert date 

    Social Post #1 

    LinkedIn 

    Person’s name 

    Link to planning document / Post by person about XYZ topic 

    Insert date 

    Newsletter 

    Email marketing 

    Person’s name 

    Link to planning document  

    Insert date 

    Social Post #2 

    Instagram story 

    Person’s name 

    Link to planning document / Story about XYZ theme 

    Insert date 

    Example 2: Sending an all-company communication about Open Enrollment 

    Communication channel 

    Sender and/or person 

    Link to draft content/Task owner 

    Due Date 

    All-company email 

    Company CEO 

    Link to document / Communications manager 

    Insert due date 

    Company intranet page updated with FAQ 

    HR manager 

    Link to document / HR benefits manager 

    Insert due date 

    All-company Slack message 

    Company CEO 

    Link to document / Communications manager

    Insert due date

    All company newsletter 

    Company email alias 

    Link to document / Communications manager

    Insert due date 

    Reminder all-company email 

    Company HR department 

    Link to document / Communications manager

    Insert due date 

     

    Start creating effective project plans 

    No matter what challenges you’re coming up against in your project planning, BetterUp can help. With access to virtual coaching, you can make sure your team members are empowered to reach their goals.

    See how BetterUp works - Watch Demo

    Published November 14, 2022

    Madeline Miles

    Madeline is a writer, communicator, and storyteller who is passionate about using words to help drive positive change. She holds a bachelor's in English Creative Writing and Communication Studies and lives in Denver, Colorado. In her spare time, she's usually somewhere outside (preferably in the mountains) — and enjoys poetry and fiction.

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