How to create a Planning Culture in your business
While many business owners consider strategic planning to be their responsibility alone, all staff in a small business often have a good deal to contribute to the process. Their first-hand knowledge of customer behaviour, market trends can be cultivated to enhance planning. Taking advantage of this knowledge requires an investment of time initially to engage employees and maintain their involvement, but this effort pays off over time.
Use the tips below to help people in your company begin to think strategically:
- Be open about your company’s plans
Communication is key to any kind of successful planning. While it may not be necessary to distribute all the details of your confidential business plan to every one of your employees, it does pay to be open about your short- and long-term goals. Regularly communicate to your employees about where you see the company heading and how it will get there. Making your goals and strategic positioning public empowers employees to participate in your success by ensuring everyone is following the same route to your ultimate destination.
- Encourage “future” thinking
Many employees go about their day-to-day duties without concern for where the market or your business is heading. Actively encourage all your employees to think about the future and what that means to their job and your company. For example, if customer service representatives suddenly see shifts in how people are using your product or service, help them determine what the impact of these shifts will be in the coming months or a year or two down the road. In fact, you may find that the people in the trenches will be able to spot trends sooner than you can and you can use this information to structure your strategies more successfully.
- Give “ownership” of goals
As the business owner, you are responsible for the ultimate strategic objectives of your business, and you can help attain those goals by delegating responsibility to those involved. For example, consider asking various teams or departments to tackle different areas of your budgets. Having them understand what it is going to cost to realize specific business goals can improve overall participation and buy-in.
- Tie planning to personal goals
Give employees a stake in your success by making sure their goals are based on your overall strategic objectives. During annual reviews, reinforce that the goals you and your employees are setting are geared toward moving your company’s strategy forward. Align bonuses and other incentives with your corporate goals to engage employees in the planning process and ensure their participation in your long-term success.
- Help employees prioritize
Simply adding “planning” to the list of employee responsibilities won’t do much good. It is up to you – as your company’s leader – to help employees integrate planning into their day-to-day thinking. Planning takes time and energy, and employees that already have a full plate may need assistance in managing their priorities. Take an active role in the process to get people on board. It may take more effort for a while, but this effort can pay off as company-wide planning takes off.