Get them involved

Christine Hoffer remembers her first interview with Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and East Central Ohio Inc. The interviewer handed her a copy of the organization’s strategic plan. Hoffer was impressed, and the practice stuck as she still uses it today.

According to the 2010 ERC/Smart Business Workplace Practices Survey, 91 percent of companies have some sort of strategic plan. The number of organizations implementing a strategy has been steadily increasing for eight years. Hoffer, chief operating officer, Cleveland, says Goodwill makes it a top priority to include employees in strategic planning.

“Transparency is very important to us,” she says. “Sometimes we go out on the road as a leadership team, to make sure that we are interacting with our employees and to make sure that the message is delivered, or if they have questions, that they have that opportunity of face-to-face time with the leadership of the organization.”

In addition to including employees in the planning process, she says it is important to set goals on a regular basis.

“As part of our annual review process, we set goals for the following year,” Hoffer says. “Those goals need to align with the strategic plan, so that the manager that’s performing the review and discussing goals talks about the strategic plan.”

Once goals are established, leaders need to be flexible and make sure the goals stay aligned with the strategic plan.

“If somebody approves goals that aren’t achievable or realistic, that’s how you lose your course,” she says. “There needs to be follow up.”

A company can get off track if the leadership team loses sight of what employees are doing. You can’t depend on quarterly meetings alone when it comes to strategic planning.

“There shouldn’t be surprises during performance reviews, so managers need to be having that constant communication and touching base so that it stays in line with the strategic plan,” Hoffer says.

How to reach: Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and East Central Ohio Inc., (330) 454-9461 or