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Strategic Planning: Management Planning by Taking Initiative

February 24, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 130

It's been said that "All great achievers are great planners." Yet I have noticed a phenomenon in business today. I have seen it in Montreal, Oklahoma, Orlando, New York, Chicago, Calgary, Denver, Phoenix, Atlanta and Minneapolis. Maybe it's just me, but it appears that in too many places, too many organizations and managers are running their departments, teams or companies without any real planning. This includes small businesses, large corporations, private and public companies in every industry.

While our economy has been slowly growing, managers seem stuck on not rocking the boat, just getting the work done and not making any waves. What they aren't doing is taking initiative to "ramp up results" or planning to improve:

operational efficiencythe customer experiencetechnological efficiencyemployee engagementcost containmentsales growth

The focus could be some other bottom-line result. The key is the focus, attention and thinking that is required to grow the business, keep customers, and gain market share.

I know most companies have some sort of strategic planning process at the top. Most often this filters down through a budgeting process. What many managers are missing are the specific input, participation, and communication from their employees in terms of their job functions, duties and performance expectations. I recommend you talk to your employees about these concerns even if your boss doesn't require it, or before your boss asks for it. Take initiative and think ahead.

I believe in a two to three page operational plan. Don't over-complicate it and zero in on critical success factors. Any manager, regardless of industry or job title, can and should do this. Let's briefly explore three key parts: Business analysis, goals in priority areas, and actions steps.

Business Analysis

We believe that a manager should include his or her team in the planning process. Through inclusion you gain their valuable input and commitment to the outcomes you need. We know that most managers don't do this and only tell employees what the plan is based on what they are told from their management. Consider a story passed on verbally down a line of a dozen or so people. What happens? The story at the end does not resemble the story in the beginning. It can be humorous, but it can also have a detrimental effect on your business. We can't let that happen to our plans. Research by Gallup says that 70-80% of employees are disengaged and don't care about company plans. This is totally unacceptable.

Hold a meeting with your team for a few hours a week or over a couple of days if you can. Discuss, review, brainstorm, and analyze:

Past resultsStrengthsWeaknessesCustomer perceptionsCompetitive concernsCompany prioritiesNew Ideas


Next, review what you learned from the analysis and identify 3-5 priorities for you area that will make a difference if you improve them. For example, in human resources it may be talent management. In customer service it could be complaint reduction. Each goal needs to have specific metrics. We know one company that wants 93.7% customer retention. Another wants to double sales in a relatively new product line. Most often upper management will give you targets. We coach managers to set "stretch" goals above these targets for your team. Ensure the goals are understood. In one company it took three hours to clarify the details of one service-related goal to a group of twenty-two managers.

Actions steps

The final piece is to establish 5-7 specific action steps per goal. Each of these action steps should be the assigned responsibility of specific people. Give everyone tasks based on their experience. And, in some areas ask for volunteers. This helps you gauge the commitment of each team member by how much they participate.

This process will create about a two to three page game-plan. It takes some thought to do this but that's why you have your team to help. When you finish, give everyone a copy. Get your boss's input. Review the results at least monthly with weekly updates. Do shorter review meetings on a quarterly basis.

If there is magic to this it's the process of putting a plan together, including your team, and reviewing the results regularly. Famed management guru Peter Drucker said, "Strategic plans are often worthless but planning is absolutely crucial." By making the effort to think through your challenges, obstacles and opportunities, you are taking initiative. Proactive action is a stellar characteristic for any leader. This puts you ahead of most other managers. Now, if you have a plan, enhance it, and if you don't, get on it. Then execute brilliantly. You will be glad you did.

By the way, do you want to assess or learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of your leadership skills so you can improve today?

If so, I suggest you check our free assessment:

Or, do you want to learn now how to be a superstar leader to achieve dynamic and sustainable high performance increases with your team?

If so, I suggest you check this out:

Rick Conlow is CEO with WCW Partners, a management consulting and training firm. Rick has helped organizations increase sales 218%, improve repeat and referral business by 20%, increase customer retention to 99%, reduce complaints by 60% and achieve 34 quality awards. You can reach Rick at: or 888-313-0514.

Source: EzineArticles
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Article Tags:

Strategic Planning


Management Planning


Planning Process


Employee Involvement


Process Improvement

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