Strategy sessions are meetings that are focused on people or employees in a company. The sessions scheduled in phases help to define a strategy, create a plan based on it, and have an action plan. Cutting-edge techniques are required in in-person sessions and planning with the management team. An expert facilitator can bring a high return on investing and planning for strategy sessions.
What is People Strategy?
People strategy sounds similar to the organization strategy that takes business on the right track to achieve goals. The former, in particular, is designed to increase employee engagement, boost productivity, and retain high-performing or potential employees in an organization. People strategy can help measure the existing talents in an organization, the need for new talent, and the talent you wish to retain.
Can you relate people strategy to business strategy? Let us see how.
Business strategy relates to products, their marketing, product features, and how to connect with the target audience. However, people strategy focuses on the workforce behind the business. Thus, the lack of people strategy can impact a business strategy. Well-designed and articulated people strategies can facilitate the development and implementation of business strategies effectively. The goal of a business should be to empower the workforce, help them become their best selves, and impact business growth positively.
The HR team will develop and make people strategy operational and incorporate it into departmental work. Thus, we can see that the people strategy focuses on growth, feedback, development, diversity, and quality. The extent and effectiveness of the HR strategy have changed in response to the pandemic. It is mainly due to the change in the work model that demands more strategic ideas. It can also retain potential candidates, help remote operations, and achieve success.
The HR strategy is based on business goals and focuses more on onboarding, recruiting, and managing employees. In this regard, people strategy consultant Emily Beugelmans Cook says that HR strategy lays the foundation for a team to perform, whereas people strategy unlocks the potential and empowers the workforce to achieve business goals. Furthermore, it impacts engagement and helps build an inclusive culture in the workplace.
How to Plan for a Strategic Session?
Schedule a session and communicate its time with the team. Make everyone understand the importance of the process to know how critical it is to participate and work towards company goals.
Having the right facilitator indicates that the sessions will run smoothly
Hire an expert facilitator to discuss and decide the agenda for the meetings
A company CEO and facilitator should plan a strategy session for the meeting—including planning location, timing, materials to be discussed, lunch, etc.
The facilitator should prepare the participants and prepare a questionnaire after discussing with the CEO
Let the participants know the key questions you want answers to, as it will make the process easier
Steps of a Strategic Planning Session
Step 1: Think through the purpose and focus on the outcome of the meeting
Where to begin and end? Know the objective and find ways to achieve it with the end in mind. Decide on a strategic planning session to achieve goals based on the need of the organization. Invite participants based on their ability to accomplish goals. Facilitators can assist in planning a comprehensive strategy session.
Start with an objective statement to share with your team in advance. It will attract the attention of your audience and contribute to a successful session. Moreover, the team can achieve clarity as it moves towards the second step and begins its planning.
How do you measure an objective? The key points are as follows:
The purpose of the action and what needs to be done
Identify the path to take by listing the scope, involvement, criteria, measures, tactics, and benefits, along with relevant details
What to expect from them and why it is vital
A quarterly planning session should include the following elements:
Highlight accomplishments of the previous quarter
Form a team with experienced members
Analyze and update the annual plan for achieving long-term goals
The team should discuss, debate, and then agree on the critical areas
Prepare the team to overcome potential obstacles that can hinder success
Identify company priorities and acknowledge success in the beginning
Identify the priorities of each member working in a team
Prepare the team to start thinking ahead of time for next year’s annual planning
Identify strengths and weaknesses at the beginning for better outcomes
This helps to finish the current year strongly and gives confidence and knowledge of the weaknesses and strengths to start the next session.
Step 2: Plan well in advance
Ensure everyone for a team meeting is present one hour in advance and will be a good investment. By preparing thoroughly, you can make the most of this time. A well-planned strategic meeting checklist should include the following:
Set the meeting date
Try to declare the date as soon as possible so that everyone can attend it. If it is a recurring meeting, ensure that every member is present for all the meetings. Schedule it well in advance and inform every member.
Select a facilitator
The right person can facilitate your strategy sessions better. The person in charge can create an agenda, prepare the required content, arrive early at the meeting, ensure technology testing, and help facilitate the session. Having clarity of role is important so that no work remains unattained when the session is about to start.
Select a location
If you are planning a session in your conference room, it can be ineffective. There is the possibility of losing focus and being interrupted by operational problems. It is ideal for a short-term meeting, but planning for an off-site meeting can be effective when it continues to 1 to 2 long sessions.
Select a coordinator to handle the meeting
The meeting coordinator will be in charge of all things that happen in a meeting; they will ensure that participants arrive, take care of travel arrangements, and look after every detail of the session. Try to pick someone meticulous and helps in strategic planning and maintaining checklists. The person should prepare for the meeting and create a basic plan that accomplishes the agenda in detail. Whatever the outline may be, it should be for the target audience.
Email the agenda and pre-work details of the meeting to the attendees
Communicate with your attendees to share the meeting objective and explain the extent of pre-work required. The people attending the meeting should bring the pre-work and take time to share the agenda. This is how people should focus on strategic goals ahead of the meeting time and try to come up with the best ideas.
Follow up with last-minute details
Work with the meeting coordinator to ensure all meeting details are addressed, like lunch plans, technology arrangements required, handling supplies, confirming the attendees, and others. It ensures that the meeting is conducted smoothly.
Step 3: Running the strategy session
The facilitator is responsible for the successful running of a strategic session. Hence, it is necessary to determine the role of the facilitator in detail.
The facilitator should ensure that employees of the organization collaborate and achieve their strategies. The person should be neutral and not take sides when judging any point of view during the meeting. A facilitator should advocate for an open and fair procedure in the session.
The facilitator should encourage every individual to come up with an informed decision. The facilitator supports others to achieve exceptional performance.
The facilitator encourages the full participation of individuals in a group meeting, promotes better understanding, and fosters shared responsibility in each one. Supporting everyone allows a group to search for an informed and inclusive solution. Based on this, the team can come up with sustainable agreements.
So, the facilitator’s main role is to make the tasks easy for everyone attending the session. Planning every step is what the facilitator looks forward to.
Who Needs a People Strategy?
If you don’t have a people strategy, try to plan it sooner. It is an extension of business strategy that focuses on business success. This directly influences the workflow you produce and boosts its productivity in the best way possible. However, without a strategy, you are risking the following:
Double up the work
Prioritize unimportant things
Have unclear product and customer roadmaps to follow
Sooner or later, these internal issues take bigger turns and become detrimental to businesses looking for growth. Each risk is damaging and leads to another, and is potentially destructive.
Best Practices for Effective People Strategy
Now that you’ve gathered some ideas for what a people strategy should look like and what it takes to have result-oriented individuals in a group, try to develop an effective people strategy. If you have a strategy in mind, here are some practices that can guide you better.
Do you have a team to deliver the strategy?
Is there adequate time to focus on strategy?
How the team performs over the year answers both the above questions.The best practices for people strategy should include promoting, upscaling, structural changes, external hiring, and others. The people who carry out the strategy are just as important as the strategy itself. Therefore, it is all about finding the time to form the right team to accomplish the goals.
Good communication is vital in strategic planning as it helps the groups know what is going on and how they can contribute. Everybody in an organization should be aware of their targets and should strive to achieve them with strategic planning. The leaders of the teams must ensure that information flows across different groups for the timely implementation of strategies. Start with a structure to ensure that you get all team leaders and individuals to work on the plan and complete it on time.
2. Accountability for the strategy plan
Track the progress of your plan and foster accountability. Make people accountable for their progress and every detail discussed in the plan. It is important to focus on the results that need to be accomplished. When things fail to fall on the track, we need to utilize the capabilities of teams and make things right in the first instance.
3. Strategies should be a priority
Arrange a meeting to let every team member know that the strategic plan should be a priority. A company’s CEO should arrange meetings and highlight the initial strategy that can show the right path to achieve success.
A company cannot flourish without a strategy. So, even before a company starts production and forms a workforce, an external facilitator should be hired who can create the best strategy. But the most important part is percolating this strategy to every member of the workforce and the management plays a vital role in ensuring this. Thus, a people strategy session’s purpose is to bring all stakeholders together under one roof and accomplish the goals of the organization together.
Book a free demo with us to know how Engagedly can help you facilitate people strategy sessions!
Srikant Chellappa is the Co-Founder and CEO at Engagedly and is a passionate entrepreneur and people leader. He is an author, producer/director of 6 feature films, a music album with his band Manchester Underground, and is the host of The People Strategy Leaders Podcast. He is currently working on his next book, Ikigai at the Workplace, which is slated for release in the fall of 2023.