The critical step forgotten by most businesses which drives employee engagement and financial growth
If you were asked the following questions, would you have the answer ready to go?
What is your long-term (10 year) objective for the business?
What will your business and team look like in 5 years time?
Why does your business exist?
If you don’t feel you have an answer to any of these questions, then you may be suffering from what I like to call Survival Syndrome. You are stuck in the day-to-day ‘tactical’ management and running of the business and have not taken the time to step back and think about where you and the business are going.
Your business will not elevate or scale-up while you remain in this mode of survival, it should be a top priority to stop what you are doing and make time to set the strategy for the future of your business, or suffer the consequences.
"Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall." Stephen Covey
Survival Syndrome is common to many businesses and the symptoms include slow or stunted growth, low or no profit, disengaged teams, poor retention, scattered approach to business development and sales, ‘money is money’ philosophy (will take any client).
The difference between businesses with the above symptoms, and those experiencing continuous growth with a high performing team, is long-term strategy and planning. Read on to learn why long-term ambitions are so important to success and how to create your strategy.
Why does a business need a long-term strategy?
Defining where you are trying to get to and why, has two amazing results for your business;
Unifies everybody involved (leadership, employees, shareholders and even customers) towards a common goal, giving purpose to any person in contact with your business
Enables total focus towards this goal, preventing the risk of time-consuming distractions and allowing easy decision making about what does and doesn’t fit within your strategy
Beyond these two primary benefits, clarity and transparency about the long-term strategy of the business significantly enhances employee engagement and retention, as employees feel they’ve been brought into the plan, trusted.
A long-term strategy answers the question ‘why are we doing this?’, a question commonly asked subconsciously by disengaged employees considering their next career move. A clear answer to this question creates a sense of purpose, a basic human need, and prevents employees from feeling disengaged.
To take this a step further, businesses who have experienced incredible growth and whose employees proudly wear the badge of their business (Apple and Google for instance) have not only clearly defined long-term strategies and goals, but empower their employees to put forward any validated idea which advances the business towards these goals. As author Simon Sinek rightly stated in his book Start with Why,
“People don’t buy what you do, but why you do it”
Your ‘why?’ will motivate and rally your employees, and beyond that engage loyal customers, stakeholders and partners who align with your long-term strategy.
What does a long-term strategy look like?
When SGH Coaching works with businesses to develop their long-term strategy, we first clarify the purpose and core focus of the business, along with the values that make up the personality of the business and team. Whilst this may seem fluffy to some, the most successful businesses in the world have all taken these steps for a reason. An awareness of the true personality or ‘culture’ of your business makes setting objectives much easier, and allows you to easily decide who and what is going to work for the business moving forward.
The next steps are to define the long-term objective or mission (10-year timeline), the why?, and then scale this back to understand what the business will look like in 3-5 years, and then what must happen in the next 12 months in order to hit that long-term objective.
Strategic planning doesn’t stop there, we need to identify the biggest obstacles to your business objectives and remove them, we need to break that 12 month plan down as much as possible to keep your team on track, and we need to ensure every area of the business is aligned to your purpose, focus and culture including organisational structure and processes for sales, marketing, BD, recruitment, team development, vendor relationships, customer communications and everything in-between.
How long does this take?
From the moment you define your long-term objectives you will begin seeing the impact on the engagement and motivation of your team, from leadership and throughout. This entire process advocates transparent communication with your employees and wider stakeholders and the sooner you begin, the sooner the results will be seen.
It takes more than initial objective-setting to see the results on business performance and growth. A considered and through strategy which extends to all areas of your business needs to follow through with consistency. Too often businesses conduct a two-day vision-building session, communicate it to their teams and then forget about it a few months down the line. This type of behaviour can cause further employee disengagement and low retention, as employees lose trust in their employer’s ability to follow-through and are frustrated with the lack of consistency.
Scheduling quarterly strategic planning sessions is advised, as strategy evolves as the business grows and a quarterly leadership meeting will ensure you are always re-aligning and communicating objectives and moving forward consistently. These sessions are also a great tool for engagement and succession planning as you can invite select employees to participate.
So, are you ready to start answering those huge questions at the beginning of this blog? If so, consider the following options:
If you feel confident your senior leadership team can map this out alone, then head over to the following blog for a step-by-step method - click the link to head straight over: 'How to achieve your big picture vision and break the 'more of the same' cycle'
If some external unbiased support would be of value, don’t hesitate to contact SGH Coaching here and we’ll schedule in a Business Health Check.
#strategicplanning #businessstrategy #longtermobjectives #businessobjectives #businesspurpose #purpose #purposeatwork #quarterlysessions #strategysessions #strategyworkshop #visionbuilding #longtermgoals #hereswhy #employeeengagement #teambuyin #teambuilding #successionplanning #futureleaders #leadershipteams #businessowners #businessvision #startwithwhy #corevalues #corefocus #missionstatement #longtermstrategy