Transform Your Business Plans With Team Buy-In
How to Achieve your Goals Through Planning & Team Commitment
My husband has a saying from his Navy sea faring days that “no plan survives contact with the enemy”. And what’s true for the Navy is also often true for businesses. In the worst case scenario for many SME businesses I’ve consulted to, the owner has no business plan whatsoever. Enthusiasm and gut feel fuel them through their start-up, and may drive them over the first few months.
In my experience, however, one of the key reasons start-up businesses begin to falter and, inevitably fail within 12 months, is through lack of strategy and direction from the outset. My ebook Conquering Barriers to Business Growth, free to download, offers a simple 10 point guide to create a solid business plan.
All too often, however, you can spend time formulating an outstanding strategic plan with detailed forecasts and good intent, only to see all this effort wasted once reality sets in. Indeed, many business owners admit to never referring back to their business plan. The leaders often forget to include the key group of people who are critically important to successfully implementing the plan – the employees!
The business strategy and forecast are the starting point in a robust management system. They provide a high level focus of WHAT the business objectives and goals are. Planning must then define HOW the different areas of the business will achieve their respective goals as smaller cogs in the engine. It sets out the non-financial key performance indicators for the volume of work and resource capacity required to achieve it. Planning should take into account seasonal fluctuations, short term changes, or incorporate small steps towards improvement.
A plan is more detailed and accurate than the forecast. It acts as a powerful roadmap with directions for the team on how to achieve their respective objectives. Fundamentally, planning is an invaluable tool for your business.
Buy-in Is Essential
However, many plans have a key weakness. They are not created or shared with the people with responsibility for implementing your strategies. Buy-in is essential. Involving everyone in your team is the only way to develop a truly useful plan for your business, and one they feel confident they can deliver.
There are a number of ways you can get the best out of your staff:
- Ensure they understand the overall goal of the business
- Be clear about the work they need to do and how you want them to do it
- Get agreement from them about how they will work as a team
- Better understand each individual, their strengths, and what they contribute to the business
- Offer on the job coaching, support and training needed to target certain areas of their work
- Encourage and motivate individuals and teams to improve their own performances
To gain control over the work and set reliable expectations and goals, you must use your resources effectively. Manpower, equipment, stocks, assets, energy etc. must all be optimised as productively as possible.
When you incorporate targets into the plan it manoeuvres people to take decisions on these issues. For example, how much manpower will they need and how can it be mobilised? What training can be offered to improve flexibility, or maximise their capacity, and when should you schedule specific activities.
Organise Commitment Meetings
Commitment meetings are at the heart of a robust management system. This is a chance to take time out with the team, discuss the details and rationale of the plan and your strategy going forward. It provides a forum and opportunity for the team to offer feedback on the plan. You can gauge whether they feel it’s realistic or achievable, and work with them to shape it into something they’re comfortable with. By opening the process up to discussion you can also take advantage of their own experience and expertise. They may well be able to suggest ideas that can improve your plan.
The agreed plans must be documented and readily accessible to be updated with the actual results, through your management system documents such as weekly reports and daily schedules. This allows you to continually track how your business is progressing in relation to the plan. Where unforeseen circumstances force a change of plan, it is much easier to make short term adjustments without throwing everything into disarray. Regular review meetings will bring staff round to the idea that adapting to changes in circumstances, or the environment your business may face, is part of the norm rather than a stressful exception.
So, in order to secure buy-in from everyone, what should your plan consist of?
As a minimum your plan must include an indication of
- Quantity – how much work should be done within a specific time. For example, how many invoices you should aim to send a day, or number of calls you’ll be making over a shift.
- Resources – how many people will be required for each task, what are the ideal shift patterns to satisfy demand, and what are the stock requirements to deliver on time.
In addition you may want to highlight and include considerations such as:
- Budgetary restrictions How much money will your staff have to work with?
- Client requirements specific client requirements that may be relevant to their orders.
- Waste allowances There is always the possibility that you go over. So how much wastage are you accounting for to ensure the plan stays on track.
It may seem impossible to plan for every eventuality and there are plenty of things that can and probably will go wrong. But that isn’t a reason to ignore risk management. It’s tempting to say we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. But what would happen if you get there and find out the bridge isn’t what you expected?
Increasing the pairs of eyes looking at a problem, by involving your team as much as possible, improves your chances of drawing up an effective plan and assessing all possible outcomes.
The more experienced you and your team become at considering all possible scenarios for your plan, the more effective it will be. The more effective your plan, the greater productivity your business achieves, whatever the world throws at you. In business, just as at sea.
Your Next Steps to Greater Productivity
Alluxi is here to offer you support, bringing a facts and figures approach to evolve your business and realise your goals. As a first step towards identifying your current business challenges and evaluating where your future opportunities exist within your business, we invite you to complete the in-depth Alluxi Business Success Scorecard focussing on the 10 key areas of a successful business.
Take 15 minutes to respond to the scorecard and get your results within minutes. You’ll be invited to book a follow-up 1-2-1 Productivity to Profit Breakthrough Session to find out how you can implement rapid and measurable improvements.
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