4 ways to improve the people elements of strategic planning

Strategy and people

This is a great time of year for you to either come up with or review you professional objectives or personal goals and how they fit with some of the grander strategic goals for the business. It’s a chance for you work out which of your priorities are really critical for yourself and for the organisation.

Planning for an organisation’s future involves not just creating a strategy but also managing the human resources necessary to actually implement it. However, you also need to take responsibility for yourself.

  1. Sit, reflect and be still

When asked what the first thing he will do when he leaves office, Barack Obama simply said he wanted to be still and reflect, and I think that’s something we need to do as well. From time to time, we should give ourselves the chance to reflect and think about priority goals for us and our businesses.

That includes – although it may sound cliched – thinking about things like what we need to do to stay innovative, what could disrupt us and how could we disrupt our own industry? Consider the steps you could take to prepare for these concerns and work out what you would have to do to start achieving them.

  1. Coach your direct reports

It’s all well and good for you to be across your strategy, but communicating that to your direct reports so it can cascade throughout the rest of the organisation is an ongoing discussion, not a one-off meeting or presentation.

Each month, you should sit down with these people for a coaching session where you’re not just telling them what to do, but actually providing guidance, listening to their concerns and helping them meet their goals. It’s an approach that links personal and professional goals, helping your team understand the options open to them and which ones are worth focusing on moving forward.

  1. Understand that there’s a deficit of trust in the world

Without getting too political, a few events over the past year heavily publicised an issue that’s affecting people at all levels: There’s a shortage of trust between people and their leaders.

I think the thing that’s really going to separate regular organisations from great ones over the next year or two will be the sense of trust they can cultivate. Employees and customers have lost trust in leaders on all fronts, from those in their place of work through to politicians and media leaders as well.

Each company will have to investigate its own unique concerns, but in general business leaders should be asking how they can ensure their employees trust them and what they need to do to grow and maintain that. The days of people listening to you purely because you are the boss are over, so you’ve really got to work to overcome that trust deficit that’s out in the world at the moment.

  1. What did you overlook last year?

Creating, communicating and implementing a strategy demands a significant personal investment. Not only have you got to manage your own personal productivity, you need to be on top of how the rest of the organisation is engaging with your strategic plans.

Consequently, it’s easy to let thing fall by the wayside. One of the first things that’s often neglected is communication because it seems like it’s just easier to do everything yourself. That’s an unwinnable game, because you just can’t take on that amount of work, you have to delegate to people you know can dissipate the message throughout the organisation.

The more you overload yourself and forget to communicate, the quicker it all spirals down to impact the rest of the people you rely on, consequently eroding that trust that’s so difficult to create in the first place.


Jerry KleemanBy: TEC Chair, CEO mentor and coach Jerry Kleeman