At this point in the year, we should be slowing down and carving out time to engage in a planning process for the year ahead. This process should involve reflection on the successes, frustrations and failures of this year, as well as focus on the result and activity priorities that need to be in place moving forward to achieve business objectives.

We often think of strategy as the purview of leadership or senior management. However, great companies such as Google, Disney and the Four Seasons engage employees at all levels to gather valuable insights from each area of business operations.

Part of the role of leadership is to raise the level of people’s gaze and get them engaged in critical thinking around their work and how it is connected to the business as a whole. When you involve team members in the planning process, you demonstrate the value of their role and their voice. That level of engagement encourages greater participation and involvement in the success of the business, improving their personal productivity.

If you are looking for how you can facilitate a productive planning process, and perhaps unsure of where to start, we wanted to provide some ideas to generate dialogue around the strategy you need in place to fulfil business objectives. In our work, strategy is the alignment of the outputs and objectives; the capabilities and resources available; and the opportunities and challenges the environment provides. We firmly believe that employees can provide insights, different perspectives, and ideas to inspire a constructive dialogue

Build an agenda around your planning session to include the following:

  1. Vision – Is the vision clear to all members of the team? Share the vision of the business and ask for feedback.
  2. Mission – Is the mission clear to all members of the team? You can ask each member of the team to write on a Post-It what they believe the mission of the business is. This will identify gaps and may even help to craft a more robust mission statement.
  3. Result Priorities – What are the result priorities moving forward – whether to increase revenue, increase number of clients who meet Ideal Client Profile, increase AUM, etc.? Do members of the team see these priorities as realistic?
  4. Personal missions – Can each team member create their own personal mission to align with the broader business mission? This will help create clarity around roles and responsibilities.
  5. What is working? Are there concrete achievements you can identify and celebrate? Is there agreement by all team members that these achievements will continue to help meet objectives?
  6. What is not working? Are there activities that you can identify as failures and reflect on how you can move forward – whether to persist, pivot or stop doing entirely? Don’t let failure get in the way of learning! We want to examine and celebrate the learning that can come from both failures and achievements so we can make the best decisions for moving forward.
  7. What to start doing? Are there activities or broader strategies you or members of your team want to develop and implement? What are the action steps and resources required? Who will be accountable?

To ensure a fruitful dialogue over the course of the session, it will be important to consider whether your team has what Harvard Business school professor Amy Edmondson calls psychological safety; a group culture that creates a “sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject or punish someone for speaking up.” Google has done significant research demonstrating that psychological safety is a key differentiator in the success of teams. You want to be sure you have created a space conducive to constructive dialogue.

We believe that engaging employees in the planning process will help drive results in your business. Engagement will foster greater communication and connection across your team over the long term by connecting employees to business objectives and the difference you make in your client’s lives.