Two Ways to Infuse Frontline Feedback Into Your Annual Planning - #GetInSynk

It’s that time of year.

Yes, we’re at the annual planning season.How will you be making sure you get frontline feedback or input in your upcoming annual planning process? Although strategy is usually created at the top of the organization, it’s implemented by the middle managers and the front line. They have a lot to add, especially about how things actually get done. It’s imperative that you include them in the process somehow; you learn things that you aren’t aware of and it creates buy-in when you act on their input. At the same time, including frontline feedback in the annual planning session is usually impossible. It’s just too many people.

So, how do you make the most of this time of the year?

I have two solutions for you. One solution gets the job done. Another one is riskier but delivers much better results.

My first suggestion isn’t difficult to do.

Do a “start, stop, keep” survey of every person in the company. Use something like Survey Monkey or Google forms sent to everyone, asking four questions.

  1. To continue the success of our organization, what are one or two things that we need to start doing that we aren’t already doing? Please explain.
  2. To continue the success of our organization, what are one or two things we need to stop doing? Please explain.
  3. To continue the success of our organization, what are one or two things that we do well that we need to keep doing? Please explain.
  4. What else to you want to tell us?

Do the survey confidentially. No tracking answers back to names. Don’t even spend time trying to figure out who said what. Compile the information, and then during your planning sessions analyse the data. You’ll certainly get some quick hits on some simple things to do to improve the company. Additionally, you gain insight into your company culture, teamwork, and execution. You’ll certainly get a lot of feedback on what the team needs to succeed.

After your sessions are over, make sure you formally thank the organization for the input, and tell them what you learned from them. Let them know what you are committing to as a result of the survey. This is important. If you don’t do this last step, you can forget getting honest answers in any future surveys.

The second suggestion delivers even better results.

My second suggestion is to have, what we call at Gravitas Impact, a Pre Annual-Planning Accelerator session with the front line and middle managers. It’s a half-day session, without the senior leadership of the company, that delivers the necessary frontline feedback. It’s specifically designed to capture direct input from the participants. You have an outside facilitator (a Gravitas Impact Premium Coach or equivalent) work the participants through a series of exercises: Victories or Bright Spots, SWOT, and Five Highest Priorities. Then the participants prepare a briefing for the senior leadership team. When this is completed, the senior leadership comes in and reviews what has been documented and then listens to the briefings. Senior leaders get to only ask up to two questions each, providing no commentary.

The conversations are rich, the insights are phenomenal, and they result in a better annual-planning session afterwards. The team building and leadership development is beneficial, as well.

Click here to get more information about my Pre Annual-Planning Accelerator session.

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