Where will you be, this time next year?
It’s the beginning of a fiscal year. A year from now you’d like to look back on the last 12 months and be proud of what you’ve accomplished. Is that even possible in our changing environment? Can I create a plan that not only motivates me, but motivates all the people who work for me?
I know what you’re thinking. . .
“Maybe if I owned my own business, I could make plans!”
“If I work with blinders on, maybe I can just keep pluggin’ away and not pay attention to all the changes happening around me.”
It’s not easy. In this changing world, is there any point in trying to plan? The answer is a resounding YES! But the planning has to be smart. Consider these points.
Set Priorities. As of today, what are the priorities of your organization? The basic priorities probably won’t change much over the year, so think high level priorities and write them down.
Focus Energy. In every job, there are lots of things we do that sap us of energy, but really don’t move the organization forward. So what we are talking about here, is focusing on the items that have more to do with the overall health of the organization, rather than your particular job.
Identify Resources and Strength Operations. Identify the high level priorities and decide where your energies should be spent. Look around your organization and beyond for resources that can help. Are there groups or departments who can help you strengthen your talents and accomplish a goal? Is there an individual with particular skills who can help develop those same skills throughout your department? Should you go outside your organization? Sometimes training is best accomplished by someone from the outside. A third-party resource may not have preconceived notions on what you should learn. Instead, outside resources are generally better at listening to you and coming up with the training customized to your needs.
Establish Common Goals. We all have different work to do, but our goals can be universal. Knowing what my part is in reaching a goal helps me keep on track. And measuring the activity leading up to the goal can remind me each month of the importance of the goal.
Assess and Adjust. When the organization takes a turn, you can adjust your priorities, energy, resources and goals. Chances are, you’ll only need to adjust them slightly, making everyone feel better about the change in the organization.
Measure Accomplishments. As each quarter winds down, focus on what you have been successful in achieving. On a daily basis, we sometimes feel like we’re going in circles. But when we look at a 3 month period, it’s fulfilling to see how far we’ve come.
Strategic planning depends on a disciplined effort that produces fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide what an organization is, who it serves, what it does, and why it does it – with a focus on the future. Measuring action items is critical. See our tip on measuring strategic plans.
For more information on how Leah M. Joppy & Associates can be your resource for training, give us a call at (301) 670-0051. Or take a look at the training opportunities on our website.
5 Tips for Measuring Strategic Success
- Include Key Performance Indicators. Nearly everything we do can be translated to numbers. While numbers never tell the entire story, they serve two purposes: 1) they help management determine results, 2) they motivate everyone to reach the goal.
- Include the HOW in your plan. How does your goal help align the organization? Including your organization and how your objectives improve the performance of the entire organization helps everyone understand the vision. Communication is key toward helping an organization achieve success.
- Set timeframes. Working on your strategic plan for 12 months is more effective than squeezing it all in during the last quarter of the year! If timetables are given for each goal, small chunks that can be accomplished on the way to the accomplished goal, the chances of reaching that goal are improved considerably.
- Make it possible. If a goal is not attainable, there will be no movement toward that goal. Breaking it down, even if the goal will end up taking several years, will improve the chances of success. Along the way, your organization will see progress, allowing your group to envision the end result.
For more information on strategic planning and overcoming organization challenges, check out our website at http://www.lmja.com/index.php, or give us a call at 301-670-0051.
Can Strategic Planning Make Your Job Easier?
Mention Strategic Planning in a meeting and you’re liable to hear lots of groans! For many companies and organizations, strategic planning involves weeks of research, competitive analysis, meetings, budgeting and planning. Besides all that work, strategic planning conjures up the idea that we have to KNOW the future. Or at least take a good guess. Good luck with that. Besides the fear of making the wrong decision, thinking too far in the future just isn’t practical anymore. Thanks to technology and the world we live in, most businesses see so much change that they are revising their strategic plans every 18 months. So, what if you just plan for the year? Make it simple. Here’s how.
First, Analyze. What has worked in the past? What has not worked? Are your employees fully trained? What areas of expertise are lacking? Decide what your strategy is for the year.
Focus on the issues at hand. What are the initiatives in your area that will have the most impact on the organization as a whole? These are the ones you want to focus on. Do your employees have the expertise to carry out the initiatives as planned? Can your area be more productive given more expertise?
Start with the end in mind. Where do you want to be by December 2015? If you know what progress needs to be made, it’s easier to schedule check points throughout the year.
Make a check list. Assuming there are goals for the department and the individual employees, make a list of what needs to be accomplished. Incorporate change management and leadership development training to transform your area to a higher performing organization.
Schedule it. Work it out on paper. What is the initiative? What results are you expecting? And what tools are needed to get there? When you break it down bit by bit, you’ll recognize whether or not your plan is feasible.
Review performance. Meet quarterly, or more often if necessary, to make sure the initiative hasn’t hit a roadblock. Don’t assume that you’ll know when that happens. Too often, organizations learn in September or October that the initiative they thought was humming along, hit a roadblock in June. Now, months have gone by without progress.
Keep it simple. You can tackle a lot, and be disappointed in your results. Or you can take the top issues and get results. Your goal is to get results, so that the next year, you can focus on other issues.
Need some help with starting or updating a strategic plan? Leadership development? Dealing with communication and conflict within teams? We can help. Give Leah M. Joppy & Associates a call at 301-670-0051 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’d love to help.
Try our tip. Read on for an easy tip to keep you focused on your strategy and get results!
Tip: Divide By Twelve!
Looking at the entire year and what you hope to accomplish can sometimes be daunting. But what if you broke it down into twelve months? You can stay on track easier, you can see quickly when you are behind schedule, and you can correct problems by adding the right tools to keep you on target. Here’s an example:
- Create a spreadsheet with twelve columns. Each column is labeled with a month of the year. We highly recommend using a Work Plan White Board, ‘strategically’ placed in an area within your office so everyone can see their individual progress and how it is aligning with their colleagues progress. Having this information readily available for all to see will head off any potential problems and minimize obstacles.
- The first worksheet is given the name of the first initiative.
- Then think of the year in terms of the initiative. You know where you want to be by December, so break it down. What are the steps you need to take to get to the end result? Schedule these for the appropriate months. You can even list the person who has responsibility for each phase of the initiative.
- Remember to add in reinforcement or follow up – check points on the calendar keep initiatives from slipping. What are the expected results you will see during the year?
Tackling each initiative this way makes it easier to accomplish your plan. You can assign responsibilities. Add reinforcement when necessary. And schedule additional training as needed. Along the way, everyone has a feeling of accomplishment as tasks are finalized and progress is visible.