Management Matters –Planning Takes Planning

The end of the year/start of the tear strategic planning meeting may create some stress and anxiety for you or your team. Some people find these annual exercises painful and others find them to be boring. The goals for getting your team together at the end or the start of the year to focus on what the plans are for 2020 have value. These meetings provide opportunities to strategize for the upcoming year, meet with less distractions, spend time together in a more relaxed setting, and strengthen relationships among team members.

If you want to leverage your time together, make some plans because better planning always makes for better meetings:

Have Clear Goals

Figure out the key objectives for your meeting and then prioritize them. Be clear about the meeting outcomes and state what they are before the meeting so that participants can see how the success of the meeting will be measured. Then review them again at the end of the meeting so see if they were, in fact, accomplished.

Provide Advance Notice

Communicate the topics for discussion, the goals, the objectives, agenda and expectations well in advance and more than once. Even if your retreat is about creativity and spontaneity, it will be more productive if people have planned for it! Good ideas come from prepared minds.

Don’t Do Too Much

Choose no more than three objectives that can be thoroughly dealt with in the time you have allotted. Give people ample time for discussion and problem solving. Don’t overload the day with activities and cut things short. Think quality and not quantity.

Bring in a Facilitator

Bring in an experienced facilitator. This allows the boss to be a contributor rather than a leader. Having an outsider’s perspective who will ask the hard questions, allow the group to get to some deeper issues, makes sure everyone is heard from, and illuminate discussions and new ideas can be a breath of much needed fresh air to stale and routine interaction. It can temper the amount the boss talks and increase the chances for others to contribute.

Make Plans for Follow Up Before You Leave

The end of the retreat/strategic planning session is the springboard for action. Your meeting can serve as the vehicle to produce concepts, teambuilding, innovation, new ideas and growth. Before you leave each other, state next steps clearly, make and clarify assignments, and determine the follow-up timetable. Decide how things will be communicated, by whom, to whom, and by when. Figure out how progress will be tracked and have a backup plan if problems arise.

Whether you call it a team meeting, a staff retreat, a strategic planning session or the annual off-site conference, you can make it a value-enhancing activity when you plan how best to do your planning

Joni Daniels is Principal of Daniels & Associates, a management consulting practice that specializes in developing human resources in the areas of leadership and management, interpersonal effectiveness and efficiency, skill- building, and organizational development interventions. With over 30 years of experience, she is a sought after resource for Fortune 500 clients, professional organizations, higher education, media outlets and business publications. Joni can be reached at

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