04 Oct THREE KEY ELEMENTS OF SUCCESSFUL TEAM STRATEGY DAYS
Amongst the many great quotes by the late Peter Drucker, two of my favourite are – “culture eats strategy for breakfast” and “strategies can be copied but culture can’t – it is the DNA of a business”. To me, these statements ring true when it comes to team strategy days.
Identifying objectives for the business and communicating them to staff is a positive exercise, but without a culture that engages employees, business objectives are just a wish for success.
A good strategy day is more than an opportunity to actively map out the path to success. When run well, they bring people together and strengthen the cultural foundations a business is built on.
In fact, effective strategy days – particularly off-site exercises – can offer incredible benefits to a business and its people. They provide a much needed break from the usual workplace environment and the opportunity to stop and reconnect with employees in a different way. They can be a turning point, where something just clicks and a business hits its stride, employees and business units deepen connections with each other, emerging talent is identified, the organisation is reinvigorated, and a competitive edge in the marketplace is gained.
Or, they can also be a catastrophe. A source of decay, creating divides between staff and management while pushing performance outcomes over a cliff.
So, what is the difference between a good strategy day and a disastrous one?
A poorly or loosely run strategy day can be surprisingly damaging. Without strong, focused facilitation there is potential to heighten confusion by muddying the waters, anger employees, deflate motivation, and adversely impact performance (a legacy usually carried into the following year when it comes to annual strategy days).
Strong facilitation will be targeted, confident and creative, encouraging discussion but gently steering it towards progress. It should apply learnings from the past and consider the present while being future focused. It should be open, honest and collaborative.
2) INSIDE-OUT APPROACH
The most powerful actions anybody takes are not imposed upon them by circumstances or by others. They come from within.
The same is true for businesses.
Just like with individuals, when a team or organisation understands and acts in line with its purpose and lives according to its values, satisfaction increases and performance outcomes are improved.
Further, having employees assist in plotting the course towards a desired destination – instead of telling them how they are going to get there – a sense of ownership is created, and engagement with the role to be played within the strategy being devised is heightened.
The best strategy days (and ultimately strategies themselves) leverage and develop existing strengths.
Generally, what people enjoy they become good at. They are motivated and engaged with what they are doing. Weaknesses fixing has very limited returns, because what is essentially being asked of the individual is not in line with what drives them and brings satisfaction. By focusing on the strengths one possesses, performance and task enjoyment can be taken to the next level.
Again, the same is true for businesses.
By recognising and utilising existing strengths, a business will come to life and a climate is created in which results can be maximised.
Additionally, employing a common, strengths-based language fosters positivity, increases cohesion through greater appreciation of the talents of others, and refreshes the workplace environment. It also enhances clarity, which is key if strategies designed are going to be successful.
Ultimately, if you’re going to invest the time, finances and resources of your business into a strategy day, it is an exercise best done with professional facilitation that considers where you are, where you want to be, and how to get there.
Richard Burton – InnerZone Founder and CEO