Taking time to think strategically
From time to time, we all need a reminder to consciously make the time and put in the effort to work on our business instead of allowing ourselves to get caught up working in it.
Did you know that only 2% of employees can name their company’s top business priorities?*
As a business manager or senior management leader your job is to create the why for your business. Your people need a clear vision to align with so that your business can be what we all want our businesses to be – a successful, revenue producing, profitable success! Without vision and a reason for why you’re doing what you’re doing in your business, your people are basically busy, running to the next thing to be even busier and being consumed by ‘busyness’. But what are they so ‘busy’ doing? They may be being productive creating and implementing ‘things’, but without a vision or a reason why, they cannot possibly hope to contribute in a meaningful way to a flourishing business.
When did you last put aside dedicated time and personal commitment to working ‘on’ your business? I mean really did it. With no ‘running’ the business distractions, blocking your diary and having the courage to say ‘no’ to anything else?
When did you last:
- Work on and truly understand your why and your business purpose?
- Develop a genuine level of clarity on your purpose?
- Create a mission?
- Develop transformational business objectives?
- Create a plan to achieve your mission and objectives to align with your purpose?
- Refine your business and marketing plans (because you’re measuring success too – right?)
- Dedicate time to seek the wood through the trees? Look at the big picture? Reflect and rewrite your SWOT (internal and external business environments change! – so should your SWOT and therefore your plans)
- Actually write it all down in a business planning document?
- Communicate your purpose and plan to the rest of your business?
- Talk to your mentor (no matter how experienced you are, a sounding board at least is always a great idea, but developing a relationship with a mentor to guide you through challenges, successes and find key learnings, is even better).
- Let go of the need to do everything yourself because no one can do it as well or efficiently as you?
Hmmmm…that last one’s a whole other realm isn’t it?
But when we’re honest with ourselves, this question has the ability to uncover a lot and help us answer why we never seem to get around to doing the important versus urgent things.
Never had a mentor? We encourage you to seek out and develop a mentoring relationship – you can find tips here. As Lailah Gifty Akita said, “Every great achiever is inspired by a great mentor”. If you need a reason why it’s so important for you to work on your ‘why’ and diarise it for next week right now, take a look at Simon Sinek’s “Golden Circle” theory which explains your clients’ behaviour and thinking around how they engage with you and your business. Tip: it has little to do with your products and services and lots to do with your business’ purpose – your why.
Warning: If you never work on your business (aka organisation, business unit, team, vision), never be so confident to expect your business will ever function to it’s maximum ability. It won’t. It’s that simple.
As business managers and leaders, our staff look to us for the why and the inspiration. And it’s ok for us to look to our staff for inspiration too! Simon Sinek reminds us – “None of us has the strength to do it alone. We need people to encourage and inspire us so we can encourage and inspire others.” Never think you need to do this on your own. Yes, you’re driving the planning process, but who do you have in your team that can provide you with inspiration, ideas, creativity and a little blue sky thinking when you need some “out of the square” ideas to consider? The difference between a connected staff member and a disengaged (or ‘busy’) one could be as simple as moving focus away from their usual day to day ‘working in the business’ protocol and moving toward ‘working on the business’. Including team members in decision making, problem solving and strategy or tactic development, encourages collaboration, helps them feel valued and view their contributions as worthwhile. Especially if you have team members working from home in the current climate, strengthening a remote workforce will be a top priority to reap the benefits of engagement and productivity.
It’s also critical to know what your ‘working on the business’ teams are capable of. Who do you have actually leading and driving your strategic thinking and planning? Occasionally we see managers promote their ‘star performers’ who are highly productive, motivated and engaged into senior positions responsible for driving strategy. Occasionally, there are missing building blocks which enable these star performers to move from productive implementation to strategic development. We assume they simply have the ‘intuition’ to get it done without the necessary experience or explicit training.
So who is doing the designing, planning and refining of your business strategy? Do your driving managers understand what strategy is? Do they understand the difference between strategy, objectives and tactics and how they feed into each other and the business planning process? As leaders, we can sometimes make the assumption that the teams we give responsibility to for planning and refining business plans, understand how to do this effectively, when this isn’t always the case. This is a great place to start reflecting before we hand over the reigns to the driving force of strategic planning.
From a ‘people’ perspective, working ‘on’ the business also encompasses taking a step back and remembering that our people are part of our business. So how do we ‘work on’ our people? I don’t know a manager whose main objectives wouldn’t include; fostering staff engagement, increasing productivity, nourishing staff morale, developing team relationships, nurturing staff wellbeing and developing a positive growth mindset. However, monitoring these elements of wellbeing and culture has become more complex for managers as a result of many businesses’ recent change to remote working. But it remains essential for the health of your employees and the health of your business.
If you’re not sure where to start working on your business, or you want to be a part of a team working on your planning with an expert facilitating the process for you, or you need a sounding board up front, we already have a plan for you. We’ve done it before (lots!) and can take the pain out of the ‘doing’.
Leaders and managers that have engaged in our Organisational Strategy & Development sessions have so far reported and enjoyed an 81% improvement in “the importance of spending time on ‘my team’ by planning and setting goals for our management team and my own area of responsibility”.
Sound great? Unpack more around working on your business by clicking here. You’ll even get to view a short video sneak peak into our Organisational Strategy & Development sessions with our own Managing Director John Smith.
*15Five, “How to launch, track and achieve your objectives and key results”, 2020.