The COVID-19 global pandemic has turned life upside down for many, and with the New Year’s Eve deadline set for Brexit, there could very well be further changes made to the way we live.

As entrepreneurs, we are uniquely positioned to ride the waves of uncertainty no matter the swell. 2021 is no different. We thrive in risk-taking environments and are in constant pursuit of opportunity.

For many us, our entrepreneurial spirit has championed us through a tough year. As we step into another uncertain year, we must take the necessary steps to plan for 2021 and beyond.

Here are 5 tips for running a great annual planning session. 

1. Get Your Leadership Team Offsite

Start by getting your leadership team offsite for two days. Host your annual session in a space that is removed from your usual office environment, to ensure you can really work on the business.

Armed with an agenda, this session needs to be focused on getting out of the weeds and working on the core of the business, smoking out issues and building team rapport.

By removing the distractions of the office, such as emails and text messages, constructive conversation and cohesive planning can take place. 

Offsite working sessions stimulate greater team unity, help gain new perspectives, and allow leadership teams to work through challenges they have about the company and get on the same page with its direction.

The change of environment brings about changes in behaviour, allowing your team to express themselves differently and reveal creative solutions that may have otherwise remain hidden in an office environment.

2. Work on Team Health  

“Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, because it is so powerful and so rare” – Patric Lencioni.

It is easy to forget that businesses are ultimately built around people and their role in fulfilling the essential needs of the company. Too many businesses dismiss this fundamental element by setting their focus on being smart and not healthy. 

Team health should be a top priority during your annual planning session. Building a healthy team refers to cultivating a cohesive leadership team that is built on a foundation of vulnerability-based trust. Encourage team rapport, listen to each member, celebrate the successes and ensure everyone feels a part of the shared vision.

According to Lencioni’s 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, vulnerability is centred on comfortably admitting mistakes and weaknesses to aid communication without fear. When fear is omitted – issues can be addressed. Healthy conflict leads to commitment and commitment leads to accountability which leads to results.

3. Conduct a SWOT Analysis

On your two-day offsite meeting conduct a SWOT analysis. This will assist you and your leadership team to smoke out any issues that may hinder your future success to be better prepared to make informed strategic decisions. 

A SWOT analysis identifies your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to form a detailed picture of your business positioning. Determine whether you’re deploying your organisation’s resources effectively, identify shortfalls and risks, and help reinforce your organisation’s strategy and vision moving forward.

Use this analysis as an opportunity to ensure that your team is crystal clear on the company vision, plans and their specific role in succeeding it.

4. Review Your Last Year 

In a 10-year business cycle, you will have two great years, six good years, and two challenging years that will potentially put you out of business. Many of us are experiencing the two difficult years right now. These 10-year cycle fluctuations are unavoidable for most. It is in these turbulent times where past reflection offers a valuable perspective. 

The easiest way to set plans for the year ahead is to look back at your performance in 2020. At the two-day annual meeting take stock of your business financials, the internal operations and systems – and learn from them. Is your company vision on track? If not, now is the time to take steps to re-align accordingly.

Many businesses who have excelled during the 2020 year, were those that have been open to adaptation and in seek of constant opportunity. Set aside time in your calendar to take  Clarity Breaks.

 5. Have Fun 

For some, it’s been the most challenging year in living memory, with any sense of joy in short supply. The two-day annual meeting is the best time for the leadership team to regroup from a troubled year and have some fun together.  

These two days are designed to work for the greater good of the organisation; you and your team should enjoy it.

If you can, arrange a fun activity for the team to enjoy. Something that has nothing to do with work; activities that inspire trust and vulnerability. Your team members will value a well-thought-out plan and environment that has their needs in mind. We have all been to that awkward team building day – and do not need to revisit a similar one. A nice evening meal and drinks goes a long way.

Fostering a fun working environment adds more energy to the pot, which in turn brews more creative, productive, and engaged team members.

Make use of our leadership planning tips to be prepared to dominate 2021! Contact us today for a free consultation and let’s take your business from good to great.

These five tips are based on the annual two-day offsite meeting agenda, to plan and prepare your leadership team for another year, in The Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS).

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