A new client invited me attend a staff meeting; the company has two partners and a staff of 4. For my benefit, the meeting was started by asking each person in the room to introduce themselves. The purpose of the meeting was to give the “staff” an opportunity to add input to the strategic plan the owners and I completed last week.
There was an agenda and at the top was the vision statement that we had just developed. The rest of the agenda had each of the two owners making alternate presentations on opportunities and goals. The very last item on the agenda was “general discussion”.
The vision statement was read and then the two partners each shared two of the company goals. The meeting was scheduled to last one hour and fifteen minutes. The owners spoke for almost an hour and then asked for comments.
What was wrong with this scenario? For me, I realized that in the planning process, we never did cover a very important aspect, and that was how to get “staff” buy-in. In a small business there has to be companywide understanding as to where the company is going and how it’s going to get there. Telling the staff the results of the plan without providing any foundation, and not providing an opportunity for the “staff” to take ownership, was the wrong way to bring forth a new plan.
There are many different types of meetings, and I felt that the owners intent was to have a “strategy meeting”. In such a meeting new strategies are introduced and some old ones revised. The following is a suggested way to present this type of meeting.
- A company should hold a strategy meeting once a year. In a larger firm key personnel are the participants, in a small business like the one I attended, everyone participates.
- Because of the importance of the topic, special preparations should be made to emphasize the importance of the meeting. I recommend an “out of the office” meeting, perhaps including a breakfast or a lunch.
- A week before the meeting each of the participants should receive a set of questions to think about and then to share their thoughts at the meeting. ( An internal and external assessment from their point of view is one suggestion)
- Introduce the reasoning for the plan that was just developed and share the foundation upon which it was built. ( values, vision statement, etc)
- Introduce the strategies one at a time including the benefit that each strategy brings to the company and to its customer base and how each person has a role in its implementation.
This type of strategy meeting brings understanding and a “buy-in” from the employees. While I only gave a brief outline of how an annual strategy meeting should take place, there are a lot more details that have to be covered.
In the near future there will be an outline on how to effectively hold an annual strategy meeting in One Biz Central in the management box.