The importance of planning and strategy

I have often heard managers say that a business plan or strategy is just a document that sits on the shelf getting dusty until its time for a review.

The truth is, that without a clear plan, whether it’s a strategic plan or an annual promotion plan, it becomes difficult to focus on the purpose of your day to day tasks and you can become lost in lots of “doing” but not much “achieving”.

Lack of planning can affect budgeting, project delivery, performance and employee morale.

“Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Poor Performance”

That’s not to say  planning requires months and months of debate and content. Some plans can be displayed simply as a table or bullet points. The key element is that the team knows where they are heading, for what purpose and how their day-to-day actions contribute towards the direction.

Some believe that front line employees don’t care about the bigger picture. In some cases I’m sure that’s true, we have all come across those employees that want to get the job done as fast as possible with little thought so they can collect their salary and be done. However, even these employees may be shocked to realise that they play a role in contributing to the “vision”. It doesn’t matter if you are the cleaner or the business manager, everyone has a part to play.

Studies show that organisations who value employees by clearly communicating how each employee is  contributing to the “vision” have better rates of employee satisfaction and retention rates.

So, the question is how and when do we plan and what for?

There are a number of plans that a Business to Customer organisation/business should have in place and it will depend on the size of the business and it’s overall purpose.

Example for a large organisation may look something like:

  • Strategic Plan (Long Term Plans usually 10+yrs)
    • Capital Works Program
    • IT Development Plan
    • Long Term Financial Plan
    • Risk Management Plan
  • Development Plan (Medium Term Plans – derived from the Strategic Plan)
  • Service Area Plan (Short Term Plans – derived from Development Plan)
  • Unit Plan. This would contain the typical elements of a Business Plan fed from operational needs & the Service Area Plan. It would include items such as:
    • Marketing Plan
    • Improvement Plan (Projects to be achieved; both operational and building)
    • Budget/Finance
    • Training Plan
  • Individual Project Plan
  • Employee Task Plan

An example for a small business may look something like:

  • Long Term Business Plan (5yrs)
  • Annual Business Plan which will include:
    • Marketing plan
    • Budget
    • Key Objectives
  • Daily/Weekly/Monthly Action Plan

The types of plan that is relevant to you or your employees will vary. It is unlikely you will communicate a 50 page strategic plan to a customer service assistant, however, they will expect an employee task plan and perhaps the 5 core objectives of the organisation. The employees individual task plan will be a result of the operational needs plus the actions derived from the plans above it. Top Down, Bottom Up. The employee may not understand how they are contributing to the strategic vision, but they will understand how their role contributes to the team objectives.

For support with planning and how to turn those plans into real actions and tangible results don’t hesitate to contact me.


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