Has your Team Bought into your Scaleup Priorities?
Do you find it difficult to get your team to buy into your priorities? If that is the way you ask yourself that question, you may already have the wrong perspective. The way you get A-players to buy in to new priorities, is for them to have influence on setting those priorities. You set priorities in a planning session, with your whole team involved.
Set priorities as a team
The Founder/CEO who decides on priorities before the team planning session will find little buy-in. What works is a leader coming into a planning session with an open mind. One allowing their team to collaborate and decide together on priorities for the next quarter.
Well-run quarterly planning sessions
To that end, quarterly planning sessions are a crucial tool for scaleup teams. They help teams align on a joint understanding of the outside world. Learn about new insights and new techniques that can help move the business forward. And whittle down long lists of pet projects to no more than five rocks for the business at large.
Many executives have found quarterly planning sessions to be boring and ineffective. This is almost always due to the Founder/CEO having precooked all decisions. If you only want your team to nod yes, you do not need a planning session. Especially if you do not want much debate, nor fundamental new insights.
Overcoming founder/CEO insecurity
Precooking priorities can betray some deep-rooted insecurities of the Founder/CEO. It is definitely a situation in which an external facilitator can make a big difference. They help keep the workshop on time, bring up for discussion what nobody dares to say. They also help the team take courageous and clear discussions over endless compromises.
Liberating the Leader
Some founders fear an external facilitator replacing the Founder/CEO's leadership role. But without an external facilitator, the Founder/CEO has an impossible job. To keep an agenda, to help open discussion as well as add your own preferences? Very quickly, the team waits and sees what the Founder/CEO says. And then nod yes while disagreeing in silence.
Founder/CEOs with external facilitators often feel liberated in a planning session. Finally they can let other team members talk first while still making up their own mind.
Balancing the priorities
The trick to balancing priorities is to spend enough time on review and feedback. Let the team discuss in the open how the business has performed and what you could have done better. Also bring in feedback from employees and customers. Let them generate insights into where the scaleup could improve most.
We have found it useful to let every team member note down a candidates priority at the end of every exercise. When we start prioritizing, executives will already have a list of candidate priorities.
Roland Siebelink speaks and writes about companies that keep growing while also keeping their culture.