Did you know that the most important part of your annual planning session isn’t planning? If you’re like many companies, your leadership team skips the most critical component of your annual planning. And it negatively impacts your team’s creativity and goal setting for the coming year.
Business leaders of entrepreneurial companies are so hard-charging, so busy, and so overwhelmed, that they tend to see only the gaps ahead of them. These are the goals, ideals, and accomplishments they haven’t reached yet. When you’re feeling overworked from the previous year and start looking at all the gaps you have yet to cover, it can put you into the wrong frame of mind for moving forward.
If this sounds familiar, there’s an easy way out of this mental trap. And it’s guaranteed to energize your leadership team with renewed creativity. Before you do any planning for the future, look back on the past.
Look Backward to Move Forward
When I meet with my clients for their annual planning session, I always ask the leadership team to reflect on the Great Accomplishments over the past year, in three areas:
- The top three things for the company
- The top thing personally
- Any unexpected greats—things that weren’t planned for, but turned out to be great
This exercise is critical for your leadership team, because it helps you to see how far along you’ve come in just a year. When everyone on the leadership team shares those successes around the room, it sheds new light on the state of the organization:
- It reinforces how terrific specific accomplishments were
- Different people think of things that others don’t think of
Without doing this, your leadership team may slouch into the session feeling like your company still hasn’t “arrived” yet. They may be feeling overwhelmed, discouraged, or weighed down with all the ground you have yet to cover. But after reviewing the Three Greats, they’re more likely to say, “Wow, we really did accomplish a lot in one year!” And now they’re in a better frame of mind to think creatively.
A 180-Degree Turnaround
One client with a five-person leadership team started their annual planning. Several leaders were feeling stressed and agitated at the beginning of the day. They felt like they just didn’t get much done in the past year. But when we reflected on their best news, they realized they had some major successes to celebrate.
- They had opened up two new locations.
- They changed two members of the leadership team and became more effective as a result.
- They opened up a new manufacturing facility.
- Their retail sales and profits broke company records.
All in just one year!
Hearing and reviewing all that news (plus much more) helped them to see how far along they had come in the past year – even though there was still more they wanted to accomplish. And in a growing company, you always want to accomplish more.
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It also helped them to celebrate the progress they’d made. When you’re in a frustrated or stressed state of mind, it shuts down your ability to creatively look at the business. You come in with a mindset of anxiety and fear. But when you review all the good news of the previous year, you change that mindset, and your energy moves from stressed to excited.
Get Excited About Annual Planning
When you make that shift, your team becomes more creative. More ideas start flowing, and you end up with a better plan at the end of the day.
Are you heading into your company’s annual planning session? Get your business moving forward faster, and get your leaders to focus on celebrating progress instead of seeing only gaps. Look backward to take your business forward in 2018.
Find out how I can help you get the most out of EOS—schedule an introductory meeting today!