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Watch for opportunities to engage staff in strategic planning

by Mimi Bacilek • June 8, 2010

Resource-based conversations usually focus on what is spent, by whom and where. They are filled with comparison-speak: who has more, how they got it and how to get more. They focus on the budget, reviewing variance reports and juggling cost-center allocations.

It all keeps the leader focused on the past. Savvy leaders take a future focus by seeing resources as investment commodities: time, information, relationships, talents and passions. Growth of staff capabilities and perspectives is a natural result.

Consider meetings that are the bane of your existence, perhaps where last week's numbers are rehashed and day-to-day problems are solved. Imagine the value staff members gain by attending in your place. They learn meeting processes and etiquette from different types of conversations. With advance coaching, they learn to speak out and up, provoke new thinking and constructively challenge other business units.

Watch for opportunities to engage staff in strategic planning. Send them to meetings where they learn from outsiders and participate in cross-functional teams accountable to different business units. These activities broaden employees' exposure, perspective and experience while the leader exercises coaching skills in the process.

Relationships are investment opportunities, too. Create active partnerships with peers, building robust and dynamic relationships. Connect people to enable improved information sharing and problem solving. Create conversations about how resources are spent or invested. Use meeting time to identify and report on outcomes.

Resources are often wasted when conversation focuses on action plans and task lists rather than results. Require proactive conversations on predictable problems versus applying energy, time and materials to fix them later. Limit "rearview mirror" conversations and focus on future outcomes. Be sure every meeting has clear purpose and that leaders skillfully facilitate to promote valuable use of time and agenda space.

Choose to be a resource investor and enable an amazing future.

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