Here’s what they are really asking
- What is the point of the hard work I’m doing? What am I working towards?
- What does this business stand for, and do I want to be part of it?
- How would you like me to prioritise my time and effort?
- What guidelines should I use when making decisions?
- What is expected of me?
There’s an expectation that the CEO and senior leadership team know the answers to these questions, and the strategy will be set from the top-down. But what if it doesn’t? How can you provide the answers and some direction to your team when it’s not coming down from the powers that be?
One of my favourite definitions of strategy is “the art of planning and directing overall military operations and movements in a battle or war”.
Strategy is the art of planning and directing overall military operations and movements in a battle or war
A battle plan is required to win a war. And it needs to change when things go pear-shaped because lives depend on it. No matter what, there has to be a plan of some sort – the next set of maneuvers that will push the team forward, provide direction and give people hope.
So the question is, can you come up with the next set of things your troops need to work on and provide direction on how to execute them, even if the overall direction of the Company is unclear? Can you help them understand what they are working towards and why, within the context of your team and department? Of course you can! Better still, if you workshop it with your team, everyone gets a chance to contribute, and they are more likely to buy-in.
When I was leading the marketing team at Mortgage Choice, I wrote a purpose for the team, which tied into the Company’s overall purpose. To give you some context, Mortgage Choice has a network of over 450 franchises and the marketing team was responsible for the national marketing strategy and supporting franchisees with their local area marketing efforts.
The marketing team’s purpose:
“We are a dedicated, creative and professional team of experts who provide accessible marketing advice, tools and leads to our network because we want to make a difference to their businesses and help more Australians create a rich life.”
There were times when the Company’s overall strategy was crystal clear, and there were times when it wasn’t. However, as a team, we could always come up with a marketing plan that delivered to this purpose and moved the company forward, a plan that kept everyone motivated and engaged.
If the strategy of the overall business is non-existent or unclear, it can help to shorten your planning timeframe to the next three or six months e.g. what can the team focus on over the next three months that will have a positive impact on the business. Trust your intuition on this one. You know what needs to be done and what makes sense.
The idea of coming up with a strategy or a plan can seem daunting, but it doesn’t need to be. We’ve created two one-page templates that you can download below, and a short video that explains how to use them. They give you a simple framework to work through to develop your plan, and they double as an excellent summary for your team members to continually refer too.
The summary can also be used to socialise the plan with your boss and key stakeholders. It’s essential to get them on board from the beginning, so they don’t derail you down the track. Seek your bosses input and guidance (an approval if required) and run it by your key stakeholders so they feel confident that they’ll get the support needed from your team, and in turn, you can ask for their help.
I would always share the plans for my marketing department with the head of sales and the head of IT. I would ask for their input because our departments were highly dependant on each other, and it was an essential step in building a collaborative environment between the teams. I also needed them to include a few things in their plans so we could achieve ours.
Happy planning. Remember – you’re awesome and you’ve got this!
Click here to download two templates that will give you a framework to step through with your team to create a plan on a page.
Watch this video for an explanation on how to use the Plan on a Page templates once you have downloaded them
Strategy without leadership goes nowhere. Leadership without strategy has nowhere to go.
Our goals can only be reached through the vehicle of a plan. There are no other routes to success.