The other day, I presented a webinar to hundreds of entrepreneurs on key organizational changes that boost profits. During the webinar, I asked the following question: Do you have a written list of the top five goals you need to accomplish this year to give your company the best chance of long-term success?
The overwhelming majority responded "no."
I followed up by asking if they believed having this written list would allow their businesses to grow more successfully. They unanimously agreed.
This list of priorities is the basis for the business plan that successful companies develop each year. But sitting down and writing the business plan by yourself is not enough. You must involve your employees.
Let me explain why. Research from Harvard Business School and the Balanced Scorecard Collaborative, now part of The Palladium Group based in Boston, found that 95 percent of a typical workforce doesn't understand its organization's strategy. Think about that for a minute. Ninety-five percent of your employees don't understand your strategy. If that's the case, how could they possibly perform at their peak? How could they possibly make the right decisions when doing their jobs? Clearly, they can't.
The solution to this disconnect is fairly straightforward. Get your employees' input in developing your business plan. When you do so, they will clearly understand your organization's strategy and goals. They will also become more productive. Because they helped develop your strategy and goals, they will be more motivated to help you achieve them.
Here are four steps to involve your employees in the business planning process:
1. Ask for their feedback.
Ask each of your employees to identify the three things they think are working best and the three things that are least effective in your business. Brainstorm with them to figure out how your company can do more of what's working, and fix -- or simply stop doing -- what's not serving your business.
2. Have them set goals for the business.
Have your employees establish specific goals for each functional area of your business they are involved in. For example, within marketing, do they have specific goals for the number of leads generated during the year? Does your manufacturing staff have goals for the number of products produced?
3. Build a plan off their ideas.
Develop the business plan using your employees' input. Once completed, have employees read the plan. Make sure they understand and agree with your strategy. Be open to modifying it if they don't.
4. Meet and update your goals monthly.
Annual goals are impossible to accomplish unless they are broken down into smaller goals. For example, an annual goal of acquiring 1,200 new customers is overwhelming. But when you break it down to 100 new customers per month or 25 new customers per week, it's more attainable.
Set goals with your team each month so that when they are accomplished, your company is on track to meet yearly targets. As needed, revise your annual goals up or down based on monthly results.
Great companies have a leader who involves employees in developing their strategy, plans and goals. Do this and your business with thrive.
Related: How to Get Ahead by Being Generous
The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.
Dave Lavinsky is the co-founder of Growthink, a Los Angeles-based consulting firm that helps entrepreneurs identify and pursue new opportunities, develop business plans, raise capital and build growth strategies. He also is the author of Start at The End (Wiley, 2012).