Summary: Before starting your strategic planning process, review the following 5 challenges and accompanying solutions so you can ensure your planning goes as smoothly as possible!
Employees are often head-down in the day-to-day operations of the company. It can be easy for them to forget what their hard work is contributing towards; the big picture. This is why many companies are interested in implementing a strategic planning process. Strategic planning processes can be broken down monthly, quarterly and yearly, and they focus on individual, departmental and corporate goals.
Example: Dunder Mifflin Paper Company
|3-5 Year Corporate Goal||Quarterly Department Goals (e.g. Marketing)||Quarterly Individual Goals (e.g. Marketing)|
|Become the leading paper provider for Northeast Law Firms||Understand 3 current paper needs of Northeastern Law Firms||Prospect Northeastern Law Firms + develop persona from pre-existing customer base by conducting 3 interviews|
There are a variety of benefits of a strategic planning process which include the following:
- Sets achievable milestones
- Improves department communication
- Inspires teamwork
- Establishes a sense of pride
In addition to the benefits, there are challenges to overcome. Each challenge presents an opportunity to learn and apply a solution. Before starting your strategic planning process review the following 5 challenges and accompanying solutions so you can ensure your planning goes as smoothly as possible!
Challenge 1: It’s a new process
Applying a new process to a pre-existing infrastructure may be difficult for employees. Change is scary! Include employees in the development of the new process and determine how each of them learn, or adjust to, new changes to manage fears.
Involve key leaders in the creation of the new strategic planning process to avoid disrupting employee productivity. If you set a 3-5 years corporate goal, tap-into the resources you have at hand; your managers. They want to know their experience, knowledge, and opinions will be taken into account when it comes to achieving an overarching corporate goal. They will also be responsible for the trickle-down-affect of the 3-5 year goals by applying it to their department and individual goals.
Tip: Discover how your employees learn by administering a personality test! When each person in the meeting knows how they learn best, they can communicate their needs more clearly.
Challenge 2: Departments lack alignment
Employees are typically consumed with day-to-day operations, so when it comes to ‘big picture’ thinking employees will go into meetings with their department point of view. This causes issues when aligning all department goals into a single corporate strategy.
For example; Development is tasked with a new release. Their ‘work’ will be done without any help from other departments. In reality, development cannot complete the release until they have Support articles to assist upgrades, Marketing materials to promote to new prospects and Sales teams versed on how to use the upgraded tools. So, in order for Development to complete their ‘department goal’ they actually have to think outside their department and establish what they’ll need from other departments.
Utilize ‘department-focused’ employees to assist with big picture planning by bringing departments together. Have each department go over their quarterly goals and outline their process. Once completed, have the remaining departments suggest where they can assist in the completion of the goal. For example; Development wants to create a new release, Support will create the articles, Marketing will schedule a webinar, and Sales will update their sales materials. Then the release can be marked as ‘complete’.
Challenge 3: Creativity appears limited
Employees may feel their creativity and independence is limited when you pre-plan milestones, especially considering the strategic planning process thinks years and months in advance.
Allow for some wiggle room and let it be known; nothing is set in stone. Remind employees that it can take years to perfect the strategic planning process and the organization will need their creative solutions and independent thinking to make it happen. The strategic planning process is fluid and can change as the company evolves.
Tip: It’s important, as an organization, to set goals that aren’t perceived as black and white, complete or incomplete. Set goals that require creative thinking to achieve measurable results.
Challenge 4: “Big Picture” isn’t clearly defined
If you find yourself asking “What is our big picture?” then undoubtedly your employees are asking it too. Day-to-day operations won’t necessarily be directly linked to the corporate goal so as time passes, people can lose focus for what they’re working towards.
Ensure employees remember your “big picture” corporate goal by having them participate in it’s creation. Keep the ‘big picture’ goal on everyone’s radar by promoting it on your intranet, celebrating milestones, and staying invested with it’s success.
Challenge 5: Focus on operations or growth?
Your organization balances operations (keeping the company afloat) and growth (expanding knowledge and new projects). If you don’t recognize day-to-day operations as equally important to the “big picture” goal, employees may lack motivation and feel underappreciated.
Operations or growth – why not both? When creating your strategic planning process it’s best not to neglect the day-to-day operations in favor of strategy. Make sure both are equally represented in the corporate and department goals.
For example: the Support department has 2 goals this quarter.
- Operational Goal: Answer customers questions every day with friendly and high quality service to maintain a 99% satisfaction rating.
- Strategic Goal: Create more support articles and improve the knowledge-base so customers can self-help and reduce the strain on Support staff.
Creating a strategic planning process is not something that can be done in one session with your team leaders, it takes time, but the payoff is happier employees that know their work is contributing to the success of the company for many years to come! Have you overcome any struggles when creating a strategic planning process? We’d love to hear from you in the comment section below. Want to know how an intranet can help you promote your strategic planning process? Request a demo with one of our product experts.
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