November 21, 2013 by Rick Brammer
In my previous blog I discussed my thoughts on why you should create a plan (see previous blog here: https://ucscollections.wordpress.com/2013/11/14/plan-your-work-work-your-plan-great-life-skill-or-waste-of-time/). Today I will share my thoughts on what that plan may look like. In fact, I want to narrow my focus to the small businesses of the world. Not those in a startup phase, but the ones simply fighting the good fight each and every day.
Many small business owners simply don’t feel they have the time to devote to developing a written plan or don’t see the benefit of such an exercise. The reasons are many: never had a plan in the past, just trying to make it through today, I’ll worry about tomorrow when it gets here, want to be flexible, react to the market, etc.
Here’s the deal, for many businesses margins are tighter than ever and continue to get tighter, new business is increasingly harder to come by and the fight to keep current business continues to get more and more difficult causing stress and pressure on the small business to mount. Having a well thought out plan can really help—and it doesn’t have to be a large fancy document that takes a ton of your time. In fact, I believe that the best plans are the ones that are created by the team.
As the leader of the team, it is your responsibility to establish the why, how, and when of developing a plan. Taking the time to explain the why is critical. The individuals that you have requested to assist in this process are obviously key members of the team and you value their ideas. Start off by telling them that. Then go on to explain how having this plan will provide a road map of the critical tasks that the team needs to address in the period. The how can take any form that you are comfortable with. You can provide a template or allow creativity in the format your team submits their ideas. The when is simply placing a due date for the submissions.
The format and process I have found useful looks like this:
- Working with the team we create Company objectives for the period (we create annual plans). These are limited to 3-5 key objectives that describe a specific result to be achieved.
- The individual group leaders are then asked to create SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound) along with a set of tactics that will be utilized to accomplish the goals in support of each objective.
- The team gets together to review everyone’s submissions with a focus on making sure they meet the SMART criteria, are valid in support of the objective, and if they are dependent on other team members then those members should be in agreement.
- Once an agreement has been reached, everything is put together into one document that lists each Company objective followed by the goals and tactics to support each goal with a listing of who is responsible.
Almost as important as having a plan is the process of creating a plan. Getting the team to take the time to think about what is important and how they and their team can contribute to the Company’s success is invaluable, as is the discussion that leads to creating the objectives, and then later in the process, the goals and tactics.
The result is a team on the same page, with a road map of what needs to be done to be successful.
Now make sure that the team reviews progress on the goals and tactics on an ongoing basis and be open to the fact that events could require a change in your priorities and some goals may have to be pushed back to allow for the new priorities.
Bottom line is to find what works for you and your team. Commit to putting together a written plan and then work your plan.
Rick Brammer is President and co-owner of United Credit Service, Inc.
Founded in 1950, United Credit Service, Inc. is a full service revenue cycle management and debt collection agency in Wisconsin providing highly effective, customized one on one management and recovery solutions for our business partners. Visit our website at http://www.unitedcreditservice.com or call 877-723-2902