Part 3: Strategic Planning – The Meeting: The Need for Cohesion

Part 3 - strategic planning cohesionBy: Jonny Baker, Senior Manager, Strategic Management Consulting Services

The following is part three of a nine-part series on strategic planning. This blog series includes identifying the need for strategic planning, setting a level playing field, defining the organization and its purpose, and selecting the initiatives, goals, and actions that will make the organization successful.

We have assembled the right team and we understand why the Strategic Planning process is so critical. Fast forward to your strategic planning session; we are in a well-lit, appropriately heated or cooled, and refreshments-laden room. We have the right teams represented, including the key players in the organization. We have sought feedback and buy-in of those not in the room and it is time to reset the organization through strategic planning.

ASSESSING YOUR TEAMS FOR COHESION

How are your teams functioning? Do they collaborate and support one another, even when times are smooth? Quantify and qualify the levels of infighting. Is there role and level confusion in your teams? What about role and responsibility confusion?

Do all of the above currently happen with your teams? Diverse teams will have diverse ideas about where to take the organization. This is a good thing for the organization as a whole. In fact, the most healthy organizations fight well at the top, according to the Harvard Business Review.  In our diverse teams, we must balance the items that bring tension and focus on the facts making issues about the underlying items for consideration instead of the person presenting them.

To accomplish cohesion, we must get the team together cohesively to eliminate the darts, both those visible and invisible. In order to show this, let me share a recent experience where KHA Management Consultants brought together the team on one of our engagements. We were working with a sales-service equipment company where two of the team just did not get along. The sales employee did not understand why the project manager was always angry with him and in-kind started to give some heat back in the form of comments and attitudes towards the project manager. During our meeting to get both sides together to eliminate the darts, the project manager extended an olive branch to the salesman and stated, ‘I respect what you do a lot. I just get frustrated with how I should handle the next steps because of the volume of work you bring in.’ The salesman looked confused for a few seconds and quipped back to the project manager, ‘I thought you just hated working with me.’ They then hugged, made up, and shared a beer. All was true except that last sentence. They do now cordially get along, and the team as a whole has started to function at a higher capacity.

THE VALUE IS IN THE PROCESS

In all truthfulness, there is something to be said about bringing the team together and allowing them to work through things in a safe environment with their counterparts. This does not always go as well as the above experience. Regardless of the outcome, bringing the team together sheds light onto what team members are feeling and holding onto, which eliminates guessing and gossiping among the team. This is different from my upbringing when my parents would make my brothers and me work together on a house project at some long-distanced hope of a newfound harmony.  Organizations should bring a team together and put infighters together on something to see if they can gain chemistry. The infighters may align eventually, at least on the thought of, ‘Get me out of this project with this person as soon as possible.’ If we are honest, hoping is not a strategy to run your organization. It is best to address these dynamic employee issues as a team, as ultimately they impact and affect the organization and its ability to function efficiently and successfully.

Patrick Lencioni, author of The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business, has a remarkable framework for resolving the issue of employee infighting and misaligned teams. For this portion of strategic planning, we should break this meeting into four distinct blocks or disciplines as Lencioni titles them. We have found that the department or organizational leader should lead in all of these blocks by going first and setting a great example for others to follow. We will review these blocks in depth in the next installment.

At KHA Management Consultants, we have experience working with organizations on Strategic Planning. We facilitate the process with the organization’s key constituents to ensure buy-in, ownership, and a new way of thinking about the organization and its stakeholders among all levels of employees. From a resource perspective, we primarily use our experience but also tap into the top-level resources such as those provided by Harvard Business Review and MentorPlus. Some of those materials, frameworks, and lessons have been used in writing this blog.

KHA Management Consultants, the consulting wing of KHA Accountants, PLLC, based in Flower Mound, Texas, is always looking for key clients ready to take their business to the next level. If you have a desire to improve, take the first step toward success with the strategic planning experts, and contact us at 972-221-2500.