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3 Ways to Build an Engaged Strategic Planning Team

Posted by Megan Plis on 3/8/17 3:35 PM
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Don't let your bank fall victim to outdated preconceptions of strategy. Traditionally, strategy has been made out to be a big, scary word. It sounds daunting, dark, and almost threatening. Or, at the very least, kind of boring. But what you're thinking of is the strategic planning of the past.

Make strategic planning a priority that your team will take ownership of in a positive way. Here's how to put a fresh twist on your bank's strategy.

3 Ways to Build an Engaged Strategic Planning Team

1. Right-Size Your Strategic Planning Team

Don't get trapped in the misconception that more is better. Include only the people that will have the strongest impact on your company's strategic vision and execution. This comes down to getting a balanced group with diverse strengths, opinions and experiences. The strategic planning team will almost always include all executive stakeholders, but who else will be an asset?

Action: Do some work to find the right-sized team that will get results and be honest, open and collaborative. The success of the planning exercise starts with a robust team. Don't decide on your strategic team until you're confident it's the right size with the right combination of people.

Remember, your team doesn't have to only include the top people in the company! A variety of experience and seniority allows for new horizons, as well as change agents that increase vision adoption throughout the company. It's imperative to have devil's advocates within the strategic planning team to generate outside-the-box ideas and to check the status quo mentality. If you're serious about real results, sometimes things have to get uncomfortable before true growth occurs. The right team will understand this and still enjoy the overall strategic planning process.


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2. You're a Team, Act Like One!

At some point in your life, you've been part of a team outside of work. And now, you're part of a team, or many teams, at work. In fact, anytime you're in a group with a common goal, it helps to think of yourself as part of a team. Why? Because as humans, we tend to gravitate toward the "me" mantra. But when we think of ourselves as part of something bigger, like a team, our minds open up to new possibilities.

That's the mindset that inspires results, so that's what we want to use when engaging in strategic planning.

Action: Actively embrace a team mentality. Teams are supposed to be fun, even when they're made up of co-workers, so allow for a meeting environment that's informal and is conducive to building comradery, yet still has structure. This informal meeting style might be new to some people, so it's important to verbally outline the energy of the meeting early on. Let people know it's okay to open up and enjoy themselves! When people are comfortable, they are more likely to let their guard down, contribute innovative ideas, and feel connected to the goal. If you're not sure where to start, food is a simple way to mellow out the formality of a normal meeting. And make sure you're using a strategic planning tool specifically made for banks that encourages easy, frequent collaboration. This means Excel probably isn't the right tool for the job.

Remember, just because a meeting is informal doesn't mean it shouldn't have a clear agenda. Structure and leadership is vital to the success of any meeting, and strategic planning meetings are no different. This is where having the right tool becomes really important!


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3. Celebrate Your Successes

Success feels good, and it should be celebrated.

There's a reason parents take their kids out for pizza after winning a softball game or performing in a recital. It's easier to establish long-term positive habits and behaviors when favorable outcomes are enjoyed. The same is true at work. Celebrating even small victories during your strategic planning journey can increase buy-in and the ultimate impact of the program.

The more engagement you develop around goals and their execution, the better the end result will be. It's also easier for excitement surrounding the inititatives to trickle down through company ranks.

Action: Set some milestones during your strategic planning journey. When they're reached, celebrate! And don't be afraid to think outside of the boardroom. For example, when your team has completed phase one, Setting Strategic Direction (i.e. mission, vision and core values), get together for an out-of-office lunch. Head down the street to a local burger joint and enjoy lunch on the company. It's actions like this that encourage future completion of initiatives and implementation of the strategic plan.

Remember, you're a team. A big part of teamwork is building relationships. Celebrating by sharing a meal together is a great way to accomplish two things: creating the informal atmosphere, and allowing downtime for non-work related networking. Once your team returns from small events like these, chances are you'll notice improvements in work quality and devotion to the strategic planning journey.

Want to learn more about strategic planning? Click to book time with Kevin Stang, our Director of Strategic Advisory Services.

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Topics: bank strategy, strategic planning, strategy, strategic planning for banks, leadership

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