At some stage in our lives I’m sure we’ve worked in a business, owned a business, or worked with a business that either doesn’t have a plan or, if it does, the owners of the business haven’t or won’t engage or communicate it within the business. Don’t you find that strange? Firstly, why wouldn’t you want a plan of direction and, secondly, why keep this a secret from those who need to deliver it? When you think about it, this really does make sense, doesn’t it? This article gives just a few reasons why having a strategic plan will help both business owners and their employees to succeed.
Why do you need to have a plan?
Many business owners I have worked with have often said that when they have taken the time to develop a plan, they’ve made the mistake of putting it in their drawer where it doesn’t see daylight again. This might not be because the plan wasn’t good. It could be that the plan may have been created for a specific purpose – i.e. to attract funding or similar and, as and when the purpose has been served, why does it matter?
In today’s fast-moving world you may say that creating a plan is a complete waste of time – you may hold the opinion that business is moving so fast that as soon as the plan is created it is already out of date. Not so long ago business owners and leaders created strategic plans that looked ahead 5-10 years – a far longer-term perspective than would be appropriate today. However, having a plan is still fundamental for any business to stay ahead of the competition and be truly successful. Although there are numerous tools to help you develop your plan, there is no standard methodology, and it is down to business owners to choose tools that work for them. Having said this, in our experience, because this is an important issue for any business, we’d recommend engaging an experienced business growth advisor to help in the first instance – well we would say that, wouldn’t we!
A strategy (or plan) gives both business owners and employees alike the high-level priorities and objectives that they want to achieve over a specific time period – in short, it provides direction and clarity. Okay, in today’s ever-changing and uncertain world a strategy that is fixed for the next five years is probably not going to be as effective as having a plan that focusses on the next 1-3 years, but it is important that a plan is in place. Having a plan with a shorter time frame enables business owners to identify shorter term priorities, create specific objectives to be achieved, say, in three years, and analyse and work on the gaps of what’s required within the business to achieve those three-year targets. Working with shorter timeframes, reviewing the plan regularly aligned to changing market conditions, adapting where appropriate, and engaging others in the changes helps you to keep the plan live, agile and dynamic. We should mention that the business owners and directors need to be leading the strategic planning process.
It’s an opportunity to engage and motivate your employees
It’s no good even thinking about having a strategy if you’re not willing to engage your people in the process. It’s probably often the case, especially in small or family-owned businesses, that the owners and directors often create the plan and, if they do decide to share it, it is probably a communication into the workforce rather than an opportunity to engage. Does that really inspire, stimulate and motivate the people who work in the business to really deliver the plan?
Probably the most important resource within a business, and maybe the most expensive, is your people. Have you ever thought that these people, who you trust to do a good job, probably have a many insights, perspectives and nuggets of information that could enrich the plan? Okay, business owners will probably want to have an outline plan of what they want to achieve, but engaging employees as part of the strategic process may deliver some surprising results! Not only will it help to develop a more fully thought-through plan; it delivers a more engaged, motivated and determined workforce; creates alignment across the business; and employees are far more likely to take responsibility for delivering targets they have helped to generate and to which they are bought into.
In a recent report, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) reported that “Employees who share a mutual-gains relationship with their employers tend to deliver improved business performance. It’s therefore no surprise that employers value engaged employees; not only are they happier, healthier and more fulfilled than ‘disengaged’ employees, but they are more likely to increase customer satisfaction levels, productivity and innovation.”
It can help you to position your business
If you engage stakeholder groups, such as employees, clients and maybe suppliers, throughout the strategic planning process, it’s highly likely that you’ll be amazed at what you hear. It could really be a journey of discovery, which will help you to position your business in the best way possible.
It’s likely that you’ll hear examples from clients about how members of your team have performed that you weren’t even aware of. Maybe the excellent service and professionalism they have received from account managers; how Joe Bloggs went the extra mile in a certain situation; or how they’ve recommended your business to others. Employees may have a deeper understanding of some of the clients’ issues – especially if they have a closer working relationship. They could raise issues you weren’t even expecting, which stimulates discussion, which may help in developing your product and service offerings. Going through this process can help bring examples to life and can be used to build a story for your business – this is not only beneficial for the business owners and directors to hear, but for employees too – and we all love telling and hearing stories!
Alright we’re all human and we know that sometimes we don’t always get it right with clients. We have all experienced instances when there’s been a challenge involving a client and, sometimes, through the positive actions and professionalism of our people, these situations have quite literally turned around and a position outcome delivered. Demonstrating how your people work to find solutions can go a long way in developing the strategy, shaping the business, and creating the story. Learning from these challenging situations can also help the business develop its processes, systems or offerings. Creating a narrative can help you not only engage effectively within the business, helping to motivate and retain staff, but it will also help you and your people when talking with prospects; in winning new business; and, when you’re looking to take the business to the next level, in influencing funders.
We have worked with a number of business owners helping them develop their strategic thinking and plans and, along with their teams, many have made huge progress in terms of achieving and, in some cases, exceeding their growth targets. Some owners who work with their teams to develop their strategy have experienced growth which they didn’t imagine possible within the first few months of developing their plans.
If you don’t have a strategy or it’s been a while since you reviewed it, why not download one of our FREE STRATEGIC PLANNING TOOL. Alternatively, please contact us for a no-obligation informal discussion.
About us – CLC and CLC Academy
Construction Leaders Club (CLC) is an organisation established to help professionals associated with the construction industry to connect, share ideas, information and best practice. Our purpose is to help you and everyone associated with CLC to grow and develop professional networks, and build strong and mutually beneficial relationships. Our core team has more than 100 years’ combined experience working at senior levels in the construction industry, associated sectors, and within the executive education environment. Our industry knowledge is supported by in-depth knowledge of working in business at the top level, as well as our experience, educational backgrounds and subject matter expertise.
CLC Academy, the developmental training arm of CLC, offers a range of professional development services helping individuals. We are all about providing business growth and leadership training and provide this through a series of ascending programmes and private one-on-one coaching. We have a proven, unique and proprietary system called the CLC Growth Accelerator System which embeds business growth knowledge and leadership skills, and gives individuals the tools necessary to further develop and work on their businesses.
For instance, on our CLC Mastermind Programmes we work with business owners and directors to give them the confidence to release their entrepreneurial spirit to drive the business to the next level and beyond. But we also see the need for developing tomorrow’s business owners and leaders today. Our Rising Stars programmes are designed to help high potential technical experts develop their general management capabilities and leadership skills, which in turn will help them make the transition into senior management roles more successful. This foresight and investment will also help business owners and directors considering the future and succession planning.
For more information about what we do and how we may be able to help you, please contact us.