As an executive coach, I have spent a significant portion of my career helping leaders prioritize upcoming work and get their teams ready for upcoming years. Through this, I have learned that across positions and industries, we all face the same challenge: not having enough time. There is always more work to be done than time to do it. And what’s more, unexpected tasks or challenges can take up the time we thought we had. What’s a leader (who wants to accomplish everything!) to do with so many competing priorities?
Enter: strategic planning.
A great strategic plan helps us focus on our high-priority items. We don’t want to get to the end of the year and realize we were so busy fighting fires that we accomplished less than we wanted to on our key objectives for our business and teams. If you haven’t already, invest in developing your strategic plan and planning process; it’s an essential step to accomplishing your biggest goals.
The key to strategic planning is in the focus it provides. Strategic plans show you where you need to focus your efforts, and where you can ease up if unexpected needs arise. Even if you have the best, most thorough strategic plan, I encourage you to spend a few minutes thinking about areas in your business that you need to re-focus on.
Use the questions below to kickstart your reflections:
- Do I have the right people on my team, in the right positions? Am I maximizing their strengths?
- Does everyone on my team understand their role and purpose for their position?
- Do they understand the vision, mission, values and strategic direction of our company?
- Are they clear on their roles and responsibilities?
- Are people getting better over time? Are they currently working on developing themselves personally and professionally? How can I support this effort?
- Do I know how my employees are feeling about the organization and their role specifically? What are their career aspirations, and how can I help develop them to achieve these aspirations? Am I spending enough time developing my leaders to achieve their next level of responsibility?
- Do they feel like they can come and talk with me about what is not going well, and I will support and guide them, versus criticize and judge them? Can they be honest with me about what I am not doing well, so I can also improve?
- Do I have a clear plan in place for the new year, and the right people in place to execute this plan? Can I articulate this plan to others? Are others involved and leading strategic initiatives? What are my top 3-5 priorities for the business for this quarter, and am I making progress?
- Where am I stuck, what is holding me back personally? What is holding me back operationally? What are some first steps I can take towards overcoming these issues?
- Are my resources aligned and organized around accomplishing our strategic objectives, or is it time to evaluate this?
Let these questions trigger ideas and actions. To get the most out of them, jot down specific actions you will take. You may find that your current priorities aren’t aligned with your real needs; take this opportunity to identify how you can re-focus on those things that will matter the most for your business.