The CEO said he wanted all the behind-the-scenes jabbing to stop. Another leader said he just needed his exec team to be more realistic and in alignment. Yet another said he simply doesn’t understand why his team can’t reach agreement. To all of these CEOs, I simply stated what was really needed:
A meaningful conversation.
Few leaders wake up each morning asking themselves how they might create chaos in their organizations. In reality, life just takes over. Yet, connecting with your peers is probably the most strategic move an organization can take. In their own words, here’s what I’ve heard recently from CEOs who have devoted two days to Annual Planning and at least one day every quarter to having an onsite facilitated Quarterly Planning session.
(1) “When we have you come in, it demonstrates that this process is a key priority for us. If I facilitate it (or if I delegate it to someone on the team), the significance just isn’t there.”
This CEO continued on to say that having an onsite Quarterly Planning session is an internal message he sends to his executive team that what they’re doing is important. “After all, we’ve learned to put time and money into things that are important. And this, like any single key thrust or initiative, is important.” Their two-day Annual Planning session ended with everyone having a much stronger degree of clarity. Following this up with Quarterly Planning sessions throughout the year helps keep them focused and aligned.
(2) “Our theme from our two-day Annual Planning session is discipline…because right now, we don’t have it. Facilitated Quarterly Planning sessions will help us grow into understanding our greatest strengths and recognizing all those weaknesses that we just don’t want to talk about.”
Building a strong executive team is hard work. The Annual Planning and/or Quarterly Planning process itself will yield amazing opportunities for “teachable moments.” After all, you don’t know what you don’t know. Creating the environment for fresh and insightful conversation to organically unfold is a gift to your executive team…and, ultimately, to your organization’s ability to do great things.
(3) And finally, these words from a CEO of a growth company a few months after his first facilitated Annual Planning onsite:
“The difference in this company between now and four months ago is amazing. The onsite and then afterwards was truly an amazing time for us. I was in a fragile place four months ago–exhausted, out of energy, beginning to not care, etc. This model has helped us beyond belief. We now have stand-up meetings, we’re living our core values, we’re doing the weekly meetings, etc. Our recent growth has been stunning, and we are so much better able to sustain that growth. We’ve made some tough people decisions, but all is well with those changes; things are moving forward. Absolutely incredible.” This company is now in the rhythm of having facilitated Annual Planning and Quarterly Planning sessions.
Having onsite Annual Planning and/or Quarterly Planning sessions is a part of doing business. The first question to ask is: What is our intent? If your intent is to survive…then do these planning sessions yourself. If your intent is to thrive…then invite a member of the McCullough Groupinto your organizational home to facilitate a meaningful conversation.