One Thing Holding Back Your Strategic Plan

One Thing Holding Back Your Strategic Plan image DATE: April 17, 2020

Creating the best strategic plan is a process – you know that. However, surprisingly, many leaders miss the very first step in the process. Let’s talk about the first thing holding you back from your best strategic plan yet!

One Thing Holding Back Your Strategic Plan 

You’re probably familiar with some of the many steps that must be worked through in the strategic planning process – steps such as visioning, SWOT analysis, addressing scalability and sustainability, just to name a few. However, many leaders overlook a critical step in the process — one that must come first! Could you be missing it, too?

In my blogs over the next several months, I’ll be digging into how to improve your strategic planning process from many angles. Today I am starting at the very beginning of the strategic planning process. Before you ever start talking business strategy with your people, you — as a leader — must take action.

What action should you take? Let’s talk.

The Missed Step in the Strategic Planning Process

Most leaders are great at following straightforward processes. However, the step in the process I’m encouraging you to take is not obvious. Because of that, it’s probably the most often missed step in the strategic planning process …and it should be the very first step out the gate!

What is the step? Get to know and understand your team. Sounds simple, right? In theory, yes. But anytime you involve people into a process, you create room for uncertainty.

You might be thinking, “Why is getting to know and understand my people so important, and why must it come first, Alyson?”

First, you need to know that I’m not asking you to be able to spout off your people’s favorite pizza toppings. When I say know and understand your people, it’s for a very defined purpose —  uncovering their fears.

You can have the most qualified team, but if your team is operating deep down from a place of fear, your strategic plan will be affected.

The fact of the matter is that everyone experiences fear at some level. As a leader, when you are able to predict and manage your people’s fears from the very beginning of the strategic planning process, you unlock success-driving ideas and thoughts that would go otherwise unshared.

Here’s What We Know

Fears differ among people and they show up differently in different settings. A few examples:

  • If a team member is most concerned with meeting their social needs, they may hold back on an out-of-the box idea they have for fear of not fitting in.
  • An innovative, intelligent team member might be privately extremely risk averse. Even if a really great strategy comes to mind, they’ll likely never communicate it to the team for fear of the negative risk…regardless of the incredible positive rewards that could stem from it.
  • Another team member may be a really talented communicator and able to sell ideas well – even mediocre ideas. Could it be that the rest of your team goes along with the idea because they fear they can’t come up with a better idea? It’s possible.

Creating a strategic plan that ensures you’ll be successful in the future depends on your ability as a leader to accurately predict and manage your people’s fears.

Here’s What You Can Do About It

You have to OWN your ability – and I mean take full responsibility — of increasing your understanding of your people for the purpose of learning their individual fears holding them back in the strategic planning process. So, how can you get started?

First, educate yourself on what exactly you need to learn about them. 3 chapters in my new book LEVEL UP: Elevate Your Game & Crush Your Goals will help you do that.

Secondly, learn their personal stories. I dig into this in chapter 9 of my book where I show the importance of learning and listening to personal stories from your people. Stories unlock secrets that might never have been told to you otherwise. These secrets will give you clues as to what they really care about, what is motivating them right now, and most importantly for our purposes today à what they’re afraid of.

Hear me carefully though, your people will never tell you their stories if you don’t first build a relationship with them. The best way to do that is to spend time with them.

Strategically Connect With Your People

Here are 3 ways to spend time with your employees:


Not much brings people together better than food. Schedule regular one-on-one lunches with your people. If they are working from home, do a virtual lunch!

2-Team Game Nights

The thing I love about games is that once you’ve played with people several times, you start seeing their true colors come out. Who will be competitive, sneaky, shy, etc.? If you’re leading people virtually, group games can be played online, too!

3-Open Invite Events

Invite your employee’s kids, spouse, or a friend to take part in something! You’ll learn more about your people when you get to know their people. If you’re all still in the office, invite employees to bring in a pet. If you’re working virtually, bring their kids onto the call for some fun.

Strategic Plan for Success

A solid strategic plan is the price of admission to success! You cannot create the best strategy if fears are ruling the conversation. Understanding your team deeply will help you eradicate fears. Once you’ve done that, you’re truly ready to start creating the strategic plan that will catapult your success!

Stay tuned for next week’s blog on strategic planning: Inspiring Creativity Among Your Team

When the time is right (Check out this blog for Strategic Planning timing: Strategic Planning Won’t Help You If…) Phillip and I are here to help you with all your strategic needs! Call or Email us!


#strategicplan #strategicplanning #employeerelations #employeerelationships #improveemployeerelationships #leadershipdevelopment

About The Author:

Alyson Van Hooser, Leadership Keynote Speaker, Trainer on Millennials, Gen Z & Women in Business With the grit that only comes from tough experiences, Alyson has learned a thing or two about personal and professional success. From her management experience with Walmart, as an elected city council member, bank manager — all before the age of 30 — Alyson has wisdom well beyond her years! Her podcast, Stake: The Leadership Podcast, offers a fresh perspective on leadership and helps multiple generations successfully work together! Connect with Alyson on LinkedIn and Instagram.

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