Thinking strategically about the future of a business can sometimes feel like a job for those in senior positions, such as the Chief Executive, Director or Chairman. But thinking creatively about the bigger picture is something that everyone should do at work, whatever level they’re at. We all have a role to play in the future of the company or organisation we work for and getting involved can be rewarding and showcase your leadership skills.
Here are out top tips for encouraging your team to think strategically:
1. Share your mission, vision and values
All companies, whether big or small, should have some strategic objectives which outline what your company or organisation wants to achieve. You may also have a mission to drive your energy and enthusiasm and a set of values which encompass how you will behave while working towards achieving your goals. This level of strategic thinking should ideally be developed in collaboration with your workforce so they feel a sense of ownership and pride in the company. But on a very basic level, you should communicate your strategic objectives, mission, vision and values to your workforce regularly as this will help embed the need to continuously think of the bigger picture.
2. Make a plan
Before you jump into the deep end, you need to envisage what you want to achieve first. What’s working well and what needs to be improved on? You may have aspirations about moving into a different sector, develop a product, boost sales to a certain audience or want to pitch for a new client. Making a strategic plan will help you feel more motivated and energised about you can communicate to your wider workforce and how any suggestions are fed back, recorded and acted upon.
3. Make time for creative thinking
When our day-to-day jobs are faced-paced we tend to have a ‘heads down and plough on’ attitude just to get through it all. While this mind-set may help you achieve your daily priorities, it doesn’t leave much room for thinking creatively about how things can be done in an innovative way. You need to give yourself the mental space and time to think more strategically about what you want to achieve. Why not start the day with a ‘to do’ list which not only prioritises your workload but looks at how you can enhance what you do to make a bigger impact?
4. Make space for creative thinking
We spend most of our daily lives at work surrounded by the same people, equipment and office space. This environment doesn’t lend itself well to thinking strategically. Why not arrange a team away day where you can have more informal discussions about the future of your roles, department or business as a whole? This would be a great way to engage with your colleagues at all levels and make them feel re-energised and a part of the future success of the firm.
5. Think about trends and issues
To think strategically literally means you have the ability to come up with creative and effective plans in line with your company or organisation’s objectives. Strategic thinking helps you set goals, determine your priorities, identify risks and opportunities. To do this well, you need to think about not just what your own job, but how you fit into the organisation and the industry sector as a whole. You need to be aware of what trends and issues are currently impacting on your sector and what may influence it in future. Having a wider perspective will help you make better decisions. You could do this by taking part in networking opportunities with your local Chamber of Commerce or subscribing to industry publications or blogs.
6. Reinvent team building exercises
Considering other colleagues and their skill set is another way of thinking strategically about how you can make a difference. We all have different strengths and weaknesses in the workplace and we can often covet each other’s skills. So why not encourage your colleagues to share their experiences and skills? You could host special team meetings, mentoring workshops or away days. Sharing skills in this way will make your team feel happy and unified, rather than competitive.
7. Inspire action
It’s important that once you have engaged with your wider workforce to ask for their opinions and ides that you continue to communicate with them to show the impact their involvement has had. You should celebrate any good ideas which have helped your business improve or move forward by communicating what’s happened since then. Once your colleagues can see you’re listening and taking their input seriously, they will feel more valued and able to put their own ideas forward in future.
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Written by Steve Hinton
Steve Hinton is an experienced Executive Coach and Consultant working with Chief Executives, Managing Directors, Senior Executives and other leaders and can work with you to create exceptional and successful leadership teams.
Contact Steve for an informal chat, and take the first step toward your team's super success!