Creating a long-term plan with a vision, strategy and measurable goals is essential for any company that wants to succeed and grow. But the planning process can do even more for companies with remote teams. It can be a way to engage workers, strengthen teams and build culture. Of course, planning, in general, isn’t easy. We’re often so focused on what needs to be done now that it’s difficult to find the time to take that step back and look at where we want to go. It becomes even more complex when you want to include people who don’t work in the same office and may not even be in the same state or country.
Consider the benefits, however. When workers are involved with the planning process, they are more invested in the plan and committed to the goals. They will understand better how their work fits into the bigger picture and importance of their role. Plus, your team members will bring to the table an understanding of what is feasible based on their experience in the field. And, they will have ideas based on their perspective.
It’s clear that getting everyone involved in the planning process requires some planning. You will need to work through how much others can or should be involved, how you will handle the logistics and how you will manage the implementation of the outcome.
While it is useful to get everyone involved in a long-term plan creation to some degree, the appropriate level of involvement depends on several factors such as the size of the company, the size of the team and the role of individuals.
On one extreme, everyone could be included with every step having input and offering suggestions. This may work well with a small team and a flat leadership structure. This would be unwieldy if not impossible, however, for a large company and large teams involved in different areas. Fortunately, there are other, effective options including:
- Send out a survey. Include questions about what has been working and where the challenges have been. Ask for thoughts about the overall direction and goals. This is an opportunity to see how well workers understand the mission of a company and whether there is a need for better communication.
- Organize small group phone or conference calls. While it’s great to have everyone in the room, it may not be feasible. These smaller group meetings can be used to gather information from individuals while helping them to build relationships.
- Keep team members informed about the process through consistent emails or other messaging options. Even if the planning activities will be limited to the executive team, you can garner enthusiasm for the strategy by letting people know what is happing and what will come next. Making the process more transparent can help draw support.
- Encourage teams to make their own long-term plan in coordination with the company’s plan. This gives ownership over the strategy to the people who will be implementing it. Set the parameters but let the teams determine how they will achieve their goals.
- Work with individuals on their long-term professional development plans in coordination with the company and their team plans. This a way to build the commitment of individuals to the company and encourage retention while workers develop their skills and capabilities. In larger companies, it may be managers or team leaders work with individuals.
When you include everyone in the company in the long-term planning process you send a message about how much you value them and their contribution. That inclusion is vital, especially with teams that work across distances.