Business Planning for Manager’s
As managers begin making business plans for the coming year, it is essential for each manager to have a clear plan that aligns with the organization’s priorities, achieves the purpose of their department and establishes clear plans for employees.
Good business plans create a clear picture of the following:
- Why the business exists (mission).
- Where they want to go (vision).
- What they stand for and how decisions are made (values).
- How they are going to achieve their vision and purpose (strategy and objectives).
- What matters most (key priorities).
- Where they are now in achieving their vision, purpose, strategy, priorities, and objectives (key performance indicators or business measures).
Often the missing link is the execution of the business plan throughout the organization to each employee. Herein lies a key responsibility of each manager/supervisor. How do they guide their department and work-team to achieve business strategies and key priorities?
Manager Department Planning
First managers have a clear knowledge of the business’s plans, strategies, objectives and priorities. Next, operate your department like a business by answering the following questions with your team:
- Why does our team exist (department mission)?
- Where do we want to go (vision)?
- How are we going to achieve our vision and purpose (strategy and objectives)?
- What matters most (key priorities)?
- Where are we now in achieving our department’s vision, purpose, strategies, priorities and objectives (key performance indicators or business measures)?
Why We Exist?
In defining the “why” push hard to find the core reason with high purpose and value that aligns with the business purpose. Sometimes you have to ask “why” five times to get to the core. Avoid reasons for existence that are self-serving or that are not motivating for the team. For example, making a profit, cutting costs and building product is not very motivating for the team, although they do play an important part of doing business. A manufacturing department that builds surge protectors might have a purpose or “why” of:
- Protecting people’s lives while they enjoy using electrical products.
- Building high quality products effectively with zero errors or returns.
- Delivering products on time.
Where We Go from Here?
It is important for managers to continually know what is most important to the organization so they keep their team focused in these areas. Many organizations go through an annual SWOT analysis where they critically review their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, looking both at their market and within their organization. Next, they build plans, set priorities, and align their resources to make the greatest impact to the organization. Department managers can do the same with their work teams:
- Understand the strengths and needs of your team members.
- Know department weaknesses and areas needing improvement.
- Look for opportunities to improve and better align with business priorities.
- Eliminate threats and solve challenges that prevent your department and team from achieving their priorities and objectives.
Department Strategy – How to Get There
Achieving your department strategy requires having a clear picture of what’s important to the company and how best to improve your department, set team and individual objectives, and key performance indicators. Clearly define overall plans for the year, breaking them down to quarterly and monthly objectives and milestones. Make sure each team member understands his/her role and expectations.
Best made plans will fall flat if they are not effectively aligned and executed by employees. It is your people who make the greatest difference in whether plans are achieved or not. Use the following techniques to align and engage your people as you execute department business plans:
Clearly communicate business strategy, showing how it will involve and impact employees. Give employees line-of-site, showing them how they fit into the plans and make a difference.
Where possible, obtain employee involvement when defining actions, goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). This helps create better measurements and obtains their buy-in to bring about desired results.
Establish a cascading objective system. Starting with the Company’s objectives, the department manager sets objectives that she/he owns and that impact the Company’s objectives. Have team objectives and KPIs that are tracked and reported on a regular basis. Next, employees set objectives that achieve their department leader’s objectives, their job purpose (job description), and individual KPIs. Make sure they clearly identify those KPIs so when they’re complete, the employee’s job purpose is achieved. It may not be possible to roll out objectives to every member in the organization, but you can help them understand the needed behaviors and actions that best support the team and company.
Make sure objectives are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-Oriented and Time-Bound):
Sometimes setting monthly or quarterly objectives are easier to manage than full-year objectives. This keeps employees focused and allows you to adjust to new changes, needs or priorities. Avoid the tendency of setting too may KPIs or objectives. Pick the two or three that really matter.
Keep score on performance for your department, work teams and individuals. Define and track key performance indicators that, when achieved, bring about desired results. Develop ways to communicate scores and results. Doing a formal performance review at least once a year is a good practice. Leaders will want to do informal discussions with employees as needed, at least monthly.
Celebrate small wins along the way, recognizing accomplishments and behaviors by department and individual. Have formal and informal recognition efforts.
Hire people who are personally accountable. Expect people to achieve their objectives, action plans, and KPIs. Confront low performers, coaching them to make needed revisions. Coach, reinforce and communicate regularly to hold yourself, your team and individuals responsible to bring about your department’s plans for the year. No excuses, victimization, or rationalization; only results.
Effective business planning takes an organized effort, involvement from key players, and engagement and accountability by everyone to make them a reality. Align people with your plans through objectives, communication, and involvement, then reinforce and hold everyone accountable for results and celebrate the wins together.