What next for realigning business priorities in 2022?

Whether it is Brexit, the pandemic, supply chain shortages or the need for inclusion and equality, there will always be an event on the horizon that will require consideration and action by business owners.

“Change before you have to” (Jack Welsh, CEO of General Electric). 

And as the popular Netflix show, Squid Game, proved to us in late 2021, it doesn’t always take the strongest individuals to succeed in a tug of war, but those that can work effectively and efficiently as one team. That is key in the boardroom as much as on the playground.

Realigning business priorities in 2022, is as much about aligning a board or management teams’ priorities as it is about having the best product or delivering the best service in the marketplace.

The last two years have changed everybody’s outlook on life and business, and it’s important that business owners do not assume that everyone around the boardroom is working towards the same goal as each other, or as they had previously.

Strategy away days are a great day out of the office for the majority of the team to build camaraderie and team cohesion, but do not always give the tangible output that can be needed for senior management to advance the business.

The businesses that will succeed regardless of how unexpected events unfold will not be the ones who have forward bought six months of stock, or who have negotiated favourable contracts with suppliers/customers, or those that have fixed the Euro or Dollar rate for the financial year.

The businesses that will succeed will be those that have:

  1. Undertaken a clear assessment of their current business today and their strengths and weaknesses
  2. Have strong guiding principles around what they stand for and are trying to achieve
  3. Those that recognise the areas they can improve their current operations
  4. Those that are open and agile to change

This involves completing a full strategic business planning exercise that incorporates scenario planning and options analysis, delegating roles and responsibilities, and appointing strategic priority owners at both senior and junior levels in the organisation.

Once this process has been completed at a shareholder and senior management level, it is important to share with the wider organisation. Targets around revenue and profitability growth are important for some stakeholders in the business, but not for the majority. The impact on the environment and sustainability, investment in people and their development, plus flexible working, and a positive culture, are often all much more important to the majority of the workforce than monetary gains.

In an environment where the search for talent is becoming more competitive, clarity across the whole business around the values, culture, and vision, will play as important a role in attracting candidates as the remuneration package.

Many readers may feel that the strategic business plan is an exercise that has been recently performed or is due to be looked at again towards the end of the financial year or when business slows down to allow time. However, the business plan should be an evolving document that is considered, reviewed, and revisited. Each action taken by the organisation should be able to satisfy the rhetorical question of “does this align with our strategic objectives?”. For actions that cannot answer this question positively, the task either needs to be disregarded or moulded differently to align with the objectives of the company.

Finally, the presentation of strategic objectives and future aspirations of the organisation can be a fanfare event for the whole organisation. But it will prove to be ineffective if regular monitoring against this plan is not shared regularly and openly with the entire organisation. Finding the best channels for this can sometimes be challenging, but some organisations find that charging more junior staff with the responsibility of determining the frequency and method of communications as being effective from an engagement perspective. 

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