As we approach year end, it’s a good time to think about your 2-day annual planning. Here are a couple of tips based on feedback from my EOS partners:
- Get out of town: I consistently hear great feedback from teams when they do an overnight, even if it is just from Holland to Grand Rapids or Grand Rapids to Holland – they like being away and relaxing together.
- Plan some fun: Do something together that is just relaxing and creates some stories. One team went to Chicago and saw two plays – the first on night 1 and another after they finished day 2. Whether it is a comedy club, feather racing at a local pub, fishing/skiing, or just a nice dinner together, do something fun. This planning can also be delegated because every team has a person with the unique ability of planning fun.
It will be on the agenda for our quarterly, and I encourage you to sell it to your team and get them excited about it. I am here to serve, so let me know how I can help.
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How much time do you, as a leader, spend on the strategic work of your business?
Wondering what strategic work is? First, here is what it’s not:
- Simply being in a room with your peer leaders and your team leader: Harvard Business Review (Stop Wasting Valuable Time by Michael Mankins) did a study on leadership teams and found 65% of them focused on talking at each other with information and not with each other to solve the biggest issues for the organization.
- Building an agenda with what the team wants to talk about: When studying leadership teams and how they structured meetings, the outcome was 3 hours per month spent on strategic issues. Ever been in a meeting where ‘input into your area’ or ‘issues being raised about your team/group’ ended up in you defending your team with the outcome being low trust, no decision, and multiple people leaving feeling like ‘that was a waste of time’? Be honest – given the choice, we build agendas that keep people ‘out of our business’ and don’t invite their input and help.
The solution is actually pretty simple, and yet not easy because too many leadership teams don’t fit the description of healthy (a cohesive, functional, open and honest, fun-loving team that enjoys working together).
Here is what strategic work is:
- Getting into a room each week to do a quick review of the health of the business (metrics and people/customer stories)
- Providing an open and honest update to peers on the status of the big work for that quarter (we call them Rocks in EOS) and closing the loop on all the things people committed to doing after last week’s meeting
- Picking 1 to 3 big issues the team feels need to get addressed and fixing them
- Leaving with a clear idea of things to do, messages to cascade, how effective the meeting was, and what we can do next week to make it more effective
- Spending a day together reviewing the long-term plan, getting on the same page around the progress to the plan for the year, updating the biggest issues/obstacles/opportunities for the year, putting a new 90-day plan in place for what has to get done, and solving a few big issues
- Doing a fun activity together where work is NOT the topic, but connecting with each other on a more personal level is
- Getting away to do the quarterly work in a longer term way
It is always about spending time on the important things, and it begins with a commitment to spending 10% of your time being more strategically focused as a team. This quote showed up today in my inbox and I hope it challenges the excuse I hear most often from leaders when I share a picture of strategic time:
“I don’t have the time.” …almost always means, “this is not a priority.”Seth Godin – sethgodin.com
If your team is spending too little time on strategic stuff or you want to step back and really look at your time, here are two great lenses to help you:
- Stop Wasting Valuable Time by Michael C. Mankins
- Read pp. 165 – 198 in Traction: Get a Grip On Your Business by Gino Wickman
Time is a gift, so use it for the most important things. I hope this helps start a great conversation with your leadership team.
Listen . . . Lead. Repeat often!
If you want to go FAST, go Alone.
If you want to go FAR, go Together.
As a leader, have you ever wondered “Why can’t people do what I tell them?” or made the statement “I will just do it myself.” I once wrote a trUTips to talk about moving past that to become a more effective and healthy person/leader. Alone in leadership is not ‘without’ people, it is more just about leveraging the talent/resources around me to just do my work in the way I want it done. From the outside, it looks more like dependence and less like a true team or relationship.
Going alone as a leader means adopting a method of leading where your ideas always trump others.
Going alone as a leader means having meetings where information is exchanged but nobody solves any problems together – after all, working alone as a leader means creating a culture where that is the norm.
Going alone means running into an invisible barrier repeatedly that serves as a cap to your business.
Alone is one way to do it, but it becomes just that – Lonely.
In a tool I use to help leaders and teams move past Alone towards really working together.
The fundamentals are simple, and yet hard.
- Start with asking the fundamental questions – “What are the roles we need to grow?” and “Who is willing, able, and capable of doing those roles?”
- The second piece is creating a vision for the next 90 days by establishing the BIG priorities for the organization – or ROCKS.
- Finally, commit to meeting weekly to connect, prioritize the work, solve problems together, and support each other in the work.
That is together, and to go FAR past where you want it is about learning to work together first (gain Traction) then defining FAR together (Strategic Plan) and learning to lead towards that point.
Leaders can go alone if they want, but that is not really leadership. Look around – which part of this quote describes your team?