At a minimum, most team leaders are asked to develop a budget for the coming year. Although this may seem like a mundane accounting exercise, it is actually an extremely powerful opportunity to engage your team members. I use the excuse of annual budgeting to do a full-out strategic planning session with my team.
Since the direction or vision for the team is not static, the team’s vision deserves to be reviewed and revised at least annually. Although there may be a temptation to believe this is solely the leader’s responsibility, in reality, it cannot be done effectively without input from the team. And what better way to get that input than by directly involving the team members.
I like to remind my team that the future has not been prescribed to us, so why not create a future for our team that everyone contributes to. Of course, there are operational objectives that need to be met, but why stop there? There is room in the plan to consider the personal aspirations of each and every team member.
Each year I facilitate a ‘business planning’ meeting where the entire team sits down and we develop/revise o ur three year rolling business plan. Absolutely everything is up for discussion. Client needs and trends, organizational objectives and expectations, succession planning, technology impacts and training needs to name a few. Once we are sure we have the organizational needs accounted for, we move into my favorite part; personal aspirations. This part of the meeting is still done in the group, but the focus, one at a time, is the individual aspirations of each team member. This is where team members really connect with the business plan since they are personally writing themselves into the plan. I don’t make promises I can’t keep, but you will be surprised how many aspirational desires you can grant as the team leader once you know about them.
Providing the forum for team members to contribute to the future plans for the team is empowering and engaging. When team members can personally see themselves in a plan they helped create, there is inherent buy-in. And by accommodating personal aspirations to the extent possible, team members see the plan as a win for themselves as well as the organization.