5 Steps for Improving Your Team’s Business Planning

5 Steps for Improving Your Team’s Business Planning

Chicago:    “I’m not sure how to approach 2014 business planning," Martin said before explaining his reasoning, “I don’t think anyone is taking this as seriously as they should and it’s aggravating.  I’m leaning towards setting personal targets and changing the bonus structure.”

With business planning an annual affair, it’s a sad commentary that Martin is so upset with his teams buy-in that he’s prepared to exclude them and lower, possibly eliminate, bonuses.   A bit radical, yes, but our advisor research tells us that Martin has a lot of company.

Before making such a radical move, I suggested that Martin follow the following 5 Steps to Improving Your Team’s Business Planning; all of which are best initiated at a team offsite


Step 1:      Review 2013 team goals with the entire team – In order for team members to take team goals seriously, progress must be tracked and an annual review conducted.  And of course this must involve the entire team.  This review will highlight the importance of achieving targets that have been established, as well as how seriously you, the team leader, view these annual team goals.


Step 2:      Revisit Individual Areas of Responsibility – Your job as team leader or senior advisor, is to make absolutely certain that everyone recognizes how their area of responsibility is connected to achieving the team’s goals.  This goes beyond simply performing their job.  This is about each individual “stepping up” within their areas of responsibility and making certain they are contributing to annual goal accomplishment.  Each individual should have a clear understanding of what is required of them, where they must “step-it-up,” in order to assist the team in reaching their goals.


Step 3:      Establish 2014 Goals – It is important to link annual goals to a long range business plan, or a lofty future target such as the Project $1 Billion (assets under management) or Project $5 Million (annual production) set by teams we coach.  These long-range targets become the mantra for reinforcing the seriousness of hitting the 2014 goal targets.  This is a command performance as every team member needs to be fully aware of the 2014 goals and where they are committing to “step-it-up” (see Step 2) in order to contribute.  Individual bonuses should be linked to individual performance that includes their “step-it-up” action plan.


Step 4:      Quarterly 2014 Goal Inspection– Whether it’s raising children or leading a team, it’s critical to inspect what is expected.  A quarterly team meeting that has one purpose: assessing progress towards 2014 goal achievement.  To set the tone and get everyone’s attention, this meeting is best held off site for 2-3 hours.  This establishes the seriousness of your 2014 goals, everyone is accountable, and either you’re on track or not.  Are we on target?  If not, why?  What adjustments need to be made and by whom?  If on target – what’s working, how do we maintain the momentum?

If not, you make the necessary adjustments in order to get back on track.   Quarterly bonuses linked to progress and individual contributions are very helpful during this inspection step.


Step 5:      Encourage Collaboration – Healthy teams are those where team members pitch-in without being told to help out whenever necessary.  This “helping a fellow team member” is a mindset that must be instilled by the team leader through both actions and words.  A good starting place is Step 2 when identifying individual  “step-it-up” action plans for each individual.  We have also found that daily huddles encourage this type of goal-focused collaboration.

There is no guarantee that Martin will take the time and effort to execute these 5 steps – but you can.  And if you do, you’re likely to dramatically impact your team’s business planning and 2014 goals.

If you have any good ideas on business planning, I’d love to hear them – let us know.


The Oechsli Institute does ongoing research and coaching for nearly every major financial services firm in the US. To take the first step towards coaching with The Oechsli Institute, complete the pre-coaching business profile for a complimentary consultation.

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