It’s February already?! It’s crazy how quickly the months can fly by, so if you haven’t already make sure you and your team are crystal clear on what you need to achieve this year.
Ask yourselves: What did you do well last year? Where did you fall short? And where do we want to be as a business in December 2019?
To make the most out of this planning process and set your team up for success in 2019, avoid these 5 common pitfalls many leaders fall into when defining their 12-month strategies:
Pitfall 1 – Failing to prioritise planning
In the whirlwind of activity that takes place on any given business day, it can often be hard to find time to take a step back and define future strategy.
In the corporate world there’s often something more urgent that needs attention, a deadline to hit, or a fire to fight somewhere.
However, the most successful companies are able to look beyond immediate priorities and consistently set aside time to both plan and revist future strategy. Failing to make time to plan will only create a more chaotic work environment, and fuel a vicious cycle of reactive activity.
The magic really happens when your team are proactively executing initiatives that bring you closer to your overarching business goals.
Pitfall 2 – No set direction, your team are busy, but not productive
The second mistake we often see leaders make within organisations is allowing themselves to be blinded by how busy or hardworking their team are, and letting this mask the fact that there are still gaps in business strategy.
Ultimately, if you don’t know where you are are going, any road will take you there, but when this principle is applied to business, it’s not always the best or most effective path.
Without a clear plan in place, each team member will interpret what success looks like differently, so while they might all be churning through work, if there’s no common goal or purpose you might be wasting valuable time.
Imagine instead, if you could channel this passion and hardwork into moving your team towards one common final destination – how much would you achieve in 2019?
Pitfall 3 – Too many strategic priorities
Another common challenge many leaders face when developing strategy with their teams, is defining too many quarterly or annual priorities or projects.
At the end of the day your team can only do so much. While on paper it might look great to outline a plethora of strategic objecttives for 2019, if you are unrealistic about what you can actually achieve you’re just setting them up to fail.
When there’s too many things to do, usually one of two things happen – either it just gets too hard and your people end up doing nothing.
Or, almost equally detrimental, your people start doing absolutely everything, which can lead to chaos, confusion, and ultimately result in lots of half finished projects, with nothing being seen through to completion.
The goal should instead be to commit to an amount of projects that will stretch your team, without overwhelming them. Do this by identifying the ‘big dominos’ – the projects that will have the greatest impact on the business and have flow on results to other areas.
Pitfall 4 – Not translating goals into actionable plans and timelines
Another common pitfall teams fall into in the planning process is getting too caught up in defining where they want to be in a year from now, but failing to put enough rigour into defining how they are going to get there.
Thinking big and setting audacious long term goals is important, but equally important is putting in place actional project plans and timeframes to ensure your team have clarity on where they should be focusing their time each day.
Pitfall 5 – Avoiding difficult conversations
When it comes to defining your 12-month strategy it’s important to start by doing an honest review of the last 12-months. What did you set out to achieve? What did you do well? And where did you fall short?
While identifying areas where you as a team have not done so well is not always comfortable, these kinds of conversations are essential as they allow you to plan more effectively for the upcoming 12 months.