Strategic Planning: 5 Focuses for the New Year

Let’s make a New Year’s Resolution. Let’s make 2017 better than 2016.

It’s important to have a plan of attack, but with strategic planning, it’s just as important to understand the past. So before looking for improvements, start by reviewing the previous year. After examining the previous year, make sure to coordinate with employees. Once the employees are on board, begin looking forward.

Here are 5 Focuses for your organization as you begin strategic planning for the new year.


1. Revisit the business plan (or other critical documents)

strategic planning: revisiting the business planEvery year should start the same – by reviewing the business plan.

The tumult of the year can be distracting. So many things can affect a company’s focus – from customer service issues to unexpected (yet profitable) deals.

Take some time in the changing of the calendar year to review the entire process. Who is the company’s ideal customer? How is the company reaching out to that customer, and how does the company handle that relationship once it’s established? And why do you sell your product or service?

Revisit the plan and honestly assess where the company is, how it aligns with core values, and where it should go next.


2. Meet with Employees

strategic planning with employeesEmployees are the backbone of the company, and there are a number of ways to keep them happy. Communication is a major factor.

Set aside time to meet with the employees. In a smaller company, the CEO or owner can meet with employees. In a large company, it may be more effective for the C-Suite executives to meet with the managers and let managers meet with employees.

Whatever the setup, make sure to ask the right questions. Ask employees about their –

  • Workload. Do they feel over or underworked?
  • Coworkers. Does the employee feel comfortable around office mates?
  • Ambitions. Where does that employee want to go or want to do?
  • IDEAS. Does the employee have any ideas that he or she thinks would help the company?


3. Experiment with a New Work Environment

strategic planning meeting spaceThere are a number of work strategies becoming more prevalent in today’s business environment, and most of them aim to blend life and work.

The biggest example is offering flexible work hours. According to the US Department of Labor, flexible hours are classified as an, “alternative to the traditional 9 to 5, 40 hour work week.” Businesses typically set up a core time for all employees to be present for meetings and leave the rest of the week up to the employee. Workers would still need to hit a required number of hours, but they are free to work when they feel most productive. This also removes any guilt or stigma from missing work due to doctor’s appointments, dropping kids off or picking them up at school, or any other facet of life. It’s also been studied, and studies show that flexible schedules can lead to an increase in productivity.

If flexible hours simply don’t work for the organization, then experiment with other potential changes. Switch up the layout of the office to encourage collaboration and conversation. Try out new furniture (like standing desks) or invest in new business tools. Take advantage of the new year and try something new.


4. Start a Mentoring Program

Group huddle!Mentoring is a great way to solidify relationships in the office. Schools have utilized mentoring techniques for decades to help develop new employees. Mentoring offers a number of advantages:

  • Newer employees have the opportunity to learn from seasoned veterans.
  • Newer employees are able to help veterans keep up with new trends and training lingo.
  • Both partners have the opportunity to foster a meaningful work relationship.

Pairing up employees and setting aside time for them to meet will help them grow as individuals and help employees develop trust in one another. This can help improve the work environment and job satisfaction for workers.


5. Improve Communication

communicate with coworkersEvery organization can improve its communication, and this topic is WAY too big for one section of a blog. But we’ll touch on it here.

For a company to function, all parts need to work together for a common vision (laid out in the business plan). For all parts to work, they must be able to communicate effectively.

There are many ways to work on communication, and we’ve touched on them in some previous blogs. Team building activities can work wonders for organizations, and they don’t have to be dull.

For companies who prefer to handle communications in-house, schedule times for sit-downs and other team meetings. Find ways to open the floor for discussion between colleagues.


So there you have it! As your organization moves into a new year, make sure that it is prepared and staying close to its vision and purpose. Once the business is aligned to the vision, make sure that employees understand the goal and help work towards that vision. And to ensure that employees can work with one another, offer routes to help encourage effective communication. If the organization can do all of these things in it’s strategic planning, 2017 will surely be a productive year!