Strategic Planning Facilitator: A Wise Addition To The Process

You want your business to thrive, and to ensure it’s reaching new heights each quarter you must implement regular strategic planning into your routine.  

Strategic planning is “… an organizational management activity that is used to set priorities, focus energy and resources, strengthen operations, ensure that employees and other stakeholders are working toward common goals, establish agreement around intended outcomes/results, and assess and adjust the organization’s direction in response to a changing environment. “ according to the Balanced Scorecard Institute.

For more resources on strategic planning, you can view my previous blog posts

Why Your Business Should Be Strategic Planning

The 5 Benefits of Strategic Planning For Your Business

While strategic planning can be completed solely by those within the company, some businesses are finding that bringing in a strategic planning facilitator helps them to yield better results from the overall process.

This blog post will outline the duties of a strategic planning facilitator and why it might be a good idea to add one to your company’s process.

What is a Strategic Planning Facilitator

A strategic planning facilitator is a consultant hired by a company to guide a business through their strategic planning meeting.

If you don’t hire an outside facilitator, you or whoever is leading the meeting takes on the role of facilitator.

There are many benefits associated with hiring an outside strategic planning facilitator which will be highlighted below.

The responsibilities associated with being a strategic planning facilitator might include

  • Assisting in explaining the planning process to the teams
  • Advising the CEO on the selection and organization of the planning teams
  • Briefing the strategic planning team on methods and tools
  • Leading the team through the planning process
  • Organizing and conducting the most important events
  • Encouraging the team to achieve tasks and meet agreed upon milestones.

Save Time In Advance

Preparing for a strategic planning meeting can be extremely time-consuming.  Hiring a facilitator can take most of the logistical preparation duties off your plate. This is always a welcome benefit for those typically tasked with that duty.

Provide Outside Perspective

When those within a company are having conversations about the business, they are very close to the situation.  Sometimes it’s difficult to fully see a case for what it is when you are in it. That’s why bringing in a strategic planning facilitator allows you to hear an outside perspective on the strategy and issues at hand.

While an outside perspective isn’t exactly necessary, it can be beneficial to hear what a neutral party thinks about a decision.

Stay on Track

It’s simple to get off track when having a meeting, especially if that’s the culture of your company.  Having a strategic planning facilitator allows you to stay on track throughout the process, so you are only addressing relevant topics that will help you achieve the goal of the planning session.

Facilitators are used to dealing with many people with various personality types so he or she can help to keep the meeting moving in a positive direction despite any disagreements or tough conversations that might take place.

Allows Everyone to Fully Participate

When one person from the company is facilitating the meeting, they’re unable to also fully participate.  Hiring a strategic planning facilitator ensures that every person who is a part of the planning committee can be present and participate as much as possible.

It’s common for more outgoing personalities to dominate the conversation.  Having experienced strategic planning facilitator helps to keep those present engaged, so everyone has a voice.

Provide a Proven Process

Strategic planning facilitators bring their skill set to the stage throughout the process.  Instead of trying to figure it out as you go, using a proven method allows you to ensure you are following a framework for strategic planning success.  

Having a proven process also reduces the risk that those in attendance will waste time.  Clearing the schedule to hold a strategic planning meeting means that every minute counts and the time spent planning should be used effectively.

How to Know Your Business Needs a Facilitator

Now, despite knowing what a strategic planning facilitator does and the benefits associated with bringing one to the table, you might be questioning whether your business is ready for that commitment.  Here are a few telltale signs that it’s time to hire a facilitator for your strategic planning meetings.

You must address tough issues

When you know in advance that tough topics or concerns must be addressed during the meeting, it might be best to bring in a facilitator.  This is especially true if there is a history of communication breakdowns when discussing tough issues as a company.

You Struggle to Stay on Task

If your meetings lead to conversations about everything under the sun beyond the purpose of the meeting, you will surely benefit from having a strategic planning facilitator.  Consider the opportunity cost associated with having this meeting. There’s no time to waste.

You Don’t Communicate Well

If your team has difficulty communicating with each other well, especially regarding tough issues, save yourself the headache of facilitating the conversation by hiring an outside specialist.  They’re from outside the company, so they can bring out the best conversation amongst those involved to help reach the ultimate goal.

Moving Forward

Deciding to hire a strategic planning facilitator is an important one.  You must ensure you hire the right person with the best experience and personality to work with your company.

The benefit of bringing in a facilitator will undoubtedly improve the process and developing a top-notch strategic plan will hopefully lead to increased business success and employee satisfaction.  Happy employees are engaged employees and engagement leads to success, so it’s always important to keep that correlation in mind.

To learn more about increasing employee engagement, download my free book, 5 Tips to Improve Employee Engagement.  

 

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