Every month, I take some time to review my tactical plan, and by October of each year, I am starting to formally ink my plan for the following year. This year, I wanted to bring you along for the ride and share a bit of why I think planning is so important and how you can start leveraging it in your own life and leadership.
If you were to visit my home, you would find a house of opposites. The risk lover and the risk-averse. The tv watcher and the bookworm. The meat-eater and the flegan (flexible vegan). The planner and the spontaneous. We are just a microcosm of a world full of opposites, preferences, and choices.
You may love to plan, or you may hate to plan (or maybe you're a mixture of both). However, no matter where you are on the spectrum, here is one thing I know to be true - if you want to be successful, you have to plan to succeed. In this blog, we'll explore five benefits of planning for leaders and their teams that I have realized throughout my career.
One of the biggest complaints I hear from employees is that they don't understand the strategy they're working towards, or no one has included them in the planning. Think about the reality of what that means. Every day, millions of people worldwide are going to work, and they're not clear about why their work matters, what the bottom line is.
I have found that there is nothing more powerful than showing someone why their work matters. Have you heard the story of the janitor who said, "I am putting a man on the moon?" He was a custodian at the Johnson Space Center, who knew his work was essential to helping Neil Armstrong land safely on the moon.
When we plan and then communicate that plan, we help everyone understand why their everyday work matters. Whether you're scrubbing data for a new system or taking over a company, providing a clear picture of how someone's day-to-day actions get the team closer to the end goal is always helpful.
When we plan, we allow people to self-direct and take responsibility for their work, which empowers them and helps leaders manage performance better. My first job assignment after college was working in the Investor Relations department of a big international insurer. My boss was very supportive, but most days, to complete my work, I had to check in to confirm the goals for that day.
A few weeks in, I remember saying to myself I can't wait until I can show up to work and know what I need to do without having to check in with someone else every day - reaching that moment of self-actualization. Self-actualization is key to long-term satisfaction in the workplace and helps to reduce turnover rates. (CMSWIRE)
I don't believe we need to spend too much time here. Hopefully, the implications are clear. If you don't plan, it will likely end up costing you time and money. Suppose your organization has a growth plan and you don't have the systems to support your growing operations. In that case, you are going to spend a premium putting a last-minute solution in place, or you will have to invest more time in manual processes. Failing to plan almost always has a time or money implication, so the next time you want to be spontaneous vs. planning for your team or business, take a few minutes to consider if the time or money is worth it?
Poor planning also creates stress. In the corporate world, one of the areas where organizations often tend to get low marks is communication, which is only compounded and made worse if we aren't planning. When we don't plan, we can't create a communication strategy to ensure the team understands our direction and goals, which leads to communicating messages that are inaccurate and unintended. On the flip side, when we plan our approach and communicate, we're better equipped to reduce stress and eliminate the non-productive hours that inevitably come from "not knowing."
For eight years, I had a sign in my office that said, "I will plan to be spontaneous tomorrow." Visitors to my office would often laugh at me, however, the reality is, when you plan, you actually leave room for spontaneity.
In my Leadership Program, The Tribe Advantage, we focus on building a prioritized tactical plan that can be quickly amended should business needs change. If there is no clear, prioritized plan, when the organization pivots (which inevitably it will), the team gets stuck in the complexity of change and emotions of transition. Call me crazy but having a clear plan allows you to respond quickly and leaves room for more spontaneity.
If planning does not wake you up in the morning, don't panic; be sure to surround yourself with people and team members who have those strengths. No matter your beliefs about planning, remember that to fail to plan is to plan to fail. As I mentioned earlier (but it's worth repeating), if you want to be successful, plan to succeed!
Leah Dean is a coach, speaker, author, and former HR executive who has worked with leaders across the globe to build high-performing teams, aka tribes, for over twenty years. Today, Leah works with women from all walks of life but is most passionate about helping women leaders show up with confidence and deliver exceptional business results. Leah lives in Bermuda with her husband and two children. To learn more about Leah's work, her best-selling book Assemble the Tribe or join The Tribe Advantage Leadership Program visit www.leahjmdean.com