Strategic Planning…What’s the Point?

August 21, 2015

Often times I hear about employees struggling to define or execute their professional roles effectively, on the flip side owners and principals say they can’t find talented people. This leaves me to ponder what is causing this huge disconnect between both parties. I believe it’s a lack of communication and direction. It sounds so easy but it’s not. Communication and giving direction are time intensive both for the employee and the employer.

The solution to this problem is providing clear, concise communication by giving specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals. It also takes dedication, leadership, and time, because we all know that the things worth doing usually aren’t easy or quick. So how do you make this happen in your company whether you are the owner or principal or the employee?

It starts with strategic vision and how the company wants transition in the next year, three years, and even five years. Having leaders that understand the importance of this plays a huge role. (If you aren’t running a business like this, start now. If you aren’t employed by someone with this mind set, start looking for an employer who is.) Write things down and ask for input from the leadership team. Hiring an outside consultant will help you stay accountable to the process but you can also facilitate internally. The caveat, though, is motivating the team stay committed to the process.

Brainstorm by physically writing down ideas about the future direction of the company. Determine where you are now and where you want to be. What do you want to improve? What gaps do you see in your business that could improve for both employees and clients? If you don’t know the answer to these, ask employees and clients as they are happy to share ideas with you. You will learn a lot about yourself and your firm through this process.
Blog #19 - Strategic Planning...What's the Point Image

Remember this process is a marathon not a sprint, so take one small step at a time to improve those thoughts and ideas. You have to begin with implementation. Half of the battle is starting, but once you’ve started it’s easy to get the ball rolling. It comes more natural. It’s like the flywheel example in Good to Great. (If you haven’t read this book, then I encourage you to do so.) I have a client that I have been working with for quite some time that decided it was time to improve and change the way they did things. It wasn’t just from a marketing standpoint but from a business standpoint. We brainstormed with the leadership team for 3 hours one day and took detailed notes. After the brainstorming session, we took those notes and prioritized everything we wanted to improve. We meet monthly to evaluate our progress. In just three short months, we completed 3 out of 5 of our biggest goals. That’s impressive. We are still working on the last two but expect we’ll have those completed by the end of the year. The team is all on the same page, because we have monthly meetings to communicate our progress. In the interim, we ask for support and guidance from one another. We keep one another updated on the progress and determine what other action steps we need to take in order to reach our goals. It’s absolutely amazing and exhilarating to see the transformation. I’m very blessed to be part of that process. Go team!

If you are part of the team and are trying to implement these ideas, then you need to have direction and completely understand your role. Having a job description helps you, but if you aren’t given constant feedback on your work, then you don’t know if you are producing the correct results. As a manager and leader, giving your team and subordinates clear direction and expectations will make them a better employee and you a happier employer. When deciding to hire a new employee, write a job description and really determine what you need them to do. Once they are hired, you will need to devote time to coaching and mentoring them, so they meet and possibly even exceed your expectations. Coaching and mentoring takes time, but in the long run, it’s worth the time investment.

I evaluate what makes the process successful and really it took the right people with direction and communication to reach the company goals. Support from management is imperative throughout the process. It starts at the top of the organization. Get your team involved and empower them to help grow the company. Start your strategic plan today! All it takes is one small step.