Annual Plan Step 1: Prep Work
Before you can start planning for the future, you need to understand where you currently are. Everyone on the team will come into the planning session with their unique perception of how things are going and some ideas for improving and growing the business. One of the most critical agenda items is allowing time for introspection during the planning session's beginning. It will immediately engage everyone on the team and establish some context for the strategic and future-directed conversations you will soon have. This is the perfect time for a strategy review with your leadership team all assembled in one place.
Here are a few yearly planning ideas to get you started:
Annual Plan Step 2: Work on Long-Term Strategy
Annual Planning should include a good balance of strategic thinking and execution planning. This is your opportunity to prepare your team for a successful year and connect strategy to execution. It is part strategy meeting and part execution meeting, and you might want your best project manager to help you map it out. To plan for a successful year, you must have a good idea of the strategic direction you are moving in. Where does your 3-5 year strategic plan have you in the next 3-5 years and beyond? Because strategic thinking is a process, not an event, you must think ahead about how to use this time most effectively. If you have a fully developed long-term strategy, you could use this time to review your strategy with the team. If you have some pieces set and some that need more work, you could spend this time focusing on just one strategic topic.
Here are a few strategic decisions you should be working on:
Annual Plan Step 3: Create a 90-day Execution Plan
Now that you have created the proper context, confirmed your strategy, and envisioned a successful year together, you are ready to discuss the details of your execution plan for the next twelve months. You need to develop a solid quarterly plan with clear deliverables. Each quarterly priority will also need an owner and Red-Yellow-Green success criteria. Taking it one step further, each team member should also identify the 3-5 individual priorities they commit to that will support the plan. These quarterly priorities should have 3-5 milestones to stay on track.
There are four components to the Yearly Plan that you will need to consider:
Annual Plan Process Step 4: Communicate with Departments
Having a great Annual Plan created by the executive team at the company level is essential, but the truth is that most of the actual work will not be done at the executive level. Most of the work will be done at the departmental level, and even then, only when it's broken down into bite-size quarterly pieces. Once the company plan is finished, each department leader should meet with their team to share the vision for the year, explain how the plan supports the long-term strategy, and discuss the department's role in supporting it. The leader should also share the 3-5 priorities the executive team has identified for the first quarter of the new year. Based on that, the department should consider what their year should look like and determine the 3-5 priorities they will pursue in the first 90 days.
Here are the basic steps to get departments aligned:
- Share company plan
- Create departmental plans to support the company plan
- Have departments share plans
Annual Plan Process Step 5: Execute and Monitor Your Progress
Your Annual Plan is incomplete unless you have set up every department and every person for success. Create weekly departmental and individual dashboards to track the progress of your annual and quarterly priorities. Weekly dashboards should include a few metrics to ensure that the departmental and individual "day jobs" are on track and a few growth priorities to ensure you drive your annual plan's growth initiatives.
The plan must have clear action items assigned to the accountable team member. Each quarterly priority should have at least three milestones so that you can make sure that it is on track all quarter long. If you are missing milestones, you aren't on your way and need to adjust. You may need to get resources from another department and offload an existing project to a current team member. If you have an accountability problem, you should read our excellent article on leadership accountability and its effect on high-performance teams. Creating a plan to tackle the day-to-day issues required to meet your goals is imperative.
The key to success is to make sure that you review what is on track and what is not every week. Ensure you run a weekly ADJUSTMENT meeting - not a boring status meeting.
How to keep your annual plan on track
- Set individual priorities to drive goals
- Create dashboards to track progress
- Adjust weekly as needed to stay on track
Commit to making this the year you give Annual Planning the attention it deserves. Once you create your annual plan, you will have the basis for your budget proposal and a clearer understanding of what you need to do to hit your numbers. Follow these steps to create an annual plan for 2024 that drives employee engagement, aligns your cross-functional teams, and eliminates silos.
2024 Annual Planning Meeting Video
If you need help creating the best plan, please check out our strategic planning facilitators with the expertise and experience to provide an immediate return on your investment or your money back.
Looking for more Annual Planning information to help get you started? Check out our additional resources:
Comprehensive Annual Plan Page
Rhythm Systems Annual Planning Resource Center
Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images
Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images