Most everyone wants to be in charge. The boss. The general. When it comes to devising winning battle strategies the general is often viewed as the most important person in the engagement. After all, they are the ones devising troop movements and a myriad of details. However, when it comes to actually executing those plans it is the corporals who often play the most important role.

It’s the same way with your credit union or bank’s strategic plan. While executives (board members, CEOs, CFOs, vice presidents, etc.) spend a ton of time reviewing data, crafting just the right words and determining priorities, the reality is it’s others in the organization that will ultimately determine the plan’s success. It’s the tellers, loan officers, service representatives, branch managers and other staff that have the greatest impact on the results.

It’s about the corporals.

But you don’t just need traditional corporals—you need strategic corporals. You need your staff to think strategically and not just tactically. You need strategic tellers, strategic loan officers, strategic service representatives and strategic branch managers.

So how do you ensure your staff is thinking strategically in their day-to-day jobs. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Get their input—Before you even begin crafting your plan, start by talking with your staff. They deal far more with consumers than you do on a regular basis. They have the pulse on what people need and want when it comes your financial products and services. You can gather this input through focus groups, surveys and one-on-one conversations.
  • Share the plan—Don’t stick your strategic plan on a shelf. And don’t restrict its access to a select few. Share it with the all. The more those front-line and support staff positions know about the direction your credit union or bank is heading, then the more likely they are to buy into what you want to accomplish. You can share the plan in staff wide meetings, e-mails, events or department settings.
  • Ask for their help—Employee engagement is certainly a buzzword today. But it’s also a realistic profit driver. Once the plan is communicated, it takes action (in the form of strategic corporals actually doing the work). Rather than simply telling your employees what the plan is in a dictatorial way let them know that you need their buy-in, support and help in its execution. The best way to increase employee engagement is letting your staff know the strategy and goals are a team effort.
  • Give them support—One of the questions Gallup asks to measure employee engagement is “Do I have the tools necessary to do my job?” When you are reviewing your plan make sure you also review what tools your staff will need to accomplish those goals. This could include a bigger budget, more staff or better technology. Don’t set unrealistic expectations without providing your employees the proper tools. Once the strategic plan is complete ask, “What tools do our employees need to accomplish what is in the plan?”

John Maxwell once said “everything rises and falls on leadership.” While that is certainly true, don’t forget that your strategic plan’s success ultimately will rise or fall not just based on your leadership but also based on your staff—or your strategic corporals.