A room full of people and the largest September in more than six years. Energy in the air. Smiling board volunteers. Real tangible results of double the attendance average. What a treat! After working on a volunteer basis for dozens of hours, I got to see the first results of the planning process at Seattle’s chapter of the American Marketing Association. The energy lit up the room at the Washington Athletic Club. After a tough year in a dismal year, we did what we tell our clients and bosses, started from scratch in our planning process. We did our due diligence, met to discuss our vision. And all this with time constraints, volunteers, and very little budget.
The plan had to have a consistent template to make it easy for our volunteer board. They had to make it their own but try to make it easy. We gave them the process, the vision, the follow-up and the enthusiasm to make a plan that they believed in.
The result was an energetic team ready to attack their year.
Most business people dread the planning process. Extra work, extra meeting, and extra hours on top of the everyday task load. Then it doesn’t seem rewarding since it seems no one ever refers back to it again.
Why do businesses need plans?
These are few of the reasons why you do plans. While planning is important in providing such benefits as a budget for measurability, taking time to analyzing new opportunities, outlining cost effective strategies rather than disjointed tactics, and efficient organization, the one most overlooked is to energize your team.
If you have the right process with easy-to-use tools and plenty of interaction to make the plan their own, plans can energize your team by giving them a clear consistent direction. Here are the steps we took at the PSAMA.
1. Puts everyone on the same page by understanding and listening to your customers and other stakeholders needs, your competition, and your entity’s strengths and weaknesses and the category’s threats and opportunities.
2. Openly discuss each team member’s personal objectives. If your company or organizations objectives don’t match personal objectives, success won’t be complete.
3. Gain consensus on the entity’s objectives both short-term and long-term vision.
4. Give them an easy –to-use planning template
5. Have them own their own plan by having your team complete the template
6. Review their plan to make it cohesive and to ensure it meets budget and overall entity objectives
7. Your team presents their own plan to the group
8. Build in a system for regular measurement tracking on completion of action items and reaching measurable objectives
We accomplished the plan that generated the exciting results and team energizing in just three team meetings. Don’t drag out the process. Gain consensus in the team meetings give your team the right tools and guidance, and then let your team own it.