Structuring Your ERG for Measurable Impact

One of the first challenges new and sometimes existing employee resource groups (ERGs) face is answering the following question: “How do we collect the information we need to fully convey the value of our employee network?” A few years ago, I developed a tool based on the impact mapping approach to aid me in helping ERGs meet that challenge. Impact maps are a strategic planning tool that help product and service teams align their activities with the company’s overall business objectives and help them make better decisions.

The ERG impact map I created is specifically designed to help the founders and leaders of new groups, as well as fully operational networks, collect and present information that links together the needs of all stakeholders through goals, actions and resource needs. Let’s walk through this five-column map.

Look at the table in the figure below with five columns and two rows. The top row is a header row with the following titles from left to right: Members, Company, Goals, Actions and Resources. In the second row, you will list the answers to the questions from left to right.

So now, in the second row in the first column to the left of the table titled “Members,” list your answer to the question “What do your current and/or prospective members need?” Perhaps they need networking opportunities or an outlet for a particular philanthropic passion, targeted development, etc. Simply list the various parts of your response as bullet points in this column.

Moving one column to the right, ask “What are some company objectives or challenges that this network might be able to address?” For example, your answer might include closer university relationships, outreach, on-boarding, branding, generating collateral material, providing the perspectives of a particular target market or talent group, etc. List your response under the column titled “Company.”

After you identify the member needs and the company needs, in the next column to the right, which is titled “Goals,” answer the question, “What goals should you set that combine the needs of both stakeholders?”

Moving once more to the right to the column titled “Actions,” list your answer to the question, “What actions do we need to take to meet these goals?” The actions you list here might address one or more goals in one or both of the stakeholder categories.

Finally, in the rightmost column titled “Resources,” record your responses to the following question: “In terms of people, time and money, what resources does this network need to take these actions?”

The result of answering these question will be a map, which, when read from left to right, draws a line between the needs of members and the company through your goals, actions and resource needs. Conversely, when read from right to left, it plots a line from your request for resources through what you expect to accomplish with these resources and who benefits from these resources.

For more on this map and how it’s used to enable ERGs to increase their executive support and impact through strategic planning, register for my free webinar scheduled for 2 p.m. EDT May 23 hosted by the Association of Diversity Councils at