The benefits of planning ahead shouldn't be overlooked. I am regularly told by our clients that the main reason why solid plans are not put in place in the workplace is due to a lack of time. But what are the consequence of this and are these too costly to ignore?
Outside of work, we tend to be more successful when it comes to setting out our short term plans. It's unlikely that any of us would get into a taxi on a Saturday night and respond with 'I don't know' when the driver asks us where we are going or turn up at the airport for our summer holiday with no flights or accommodation booked! We like to be organised in our personal lives, set out our aims and plan how we are going to achieve them.
So why don't we do this enough in the office and why is planning so important for businesses?
Having a plan means we know where we want to be. It means we can plan resources around the outcomes we are expecting. It means we can work to and meet deadlines and allocate sufficient time to complete our projects and assignments. When it comes to setting goals, we know that these goals should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound) but one of the main reasons why we don't achieve the goals is because we lose commitment. This could be due to decreased motivation, lack of interest or changes in priorities. When you are setting out your goals, plan as to how you are going to keep the momentum going, will it be a weekly catch up meeting with the team or will you provide incentives where goals are successfully achieved? Research shows that 83% of people do not set goals and the ones that do are three times more likely to achieve them when these goals are written down. Where these planned goals are shared, the likelihood of achievement is also significantly higher.
Departmental integration and communication
Planning helps different departments within a business feel coordinated. Clearly, a tax department will have different plans to the audit department but by each department understanding their own targets and how these fit into the wider vision for the business, individuals and teams should feel a sense of belonging and feel committed and motivated to support the business in the long term. This should also increase cross-department collaboration. Anybody ever worked for a business where they have no idea of what the planned strategic direction for the business is? It's demotivating and chaotic and people underperform. Having solid plans in place means people can be set targets and these targets can be monitored allowing people to be developed.
Planning helps a business stay competitive in its industry. In the tax and accounting world, planned legislation changes are often communicated by the government and other bodies well in advance. Why be reactive and wait until the actual change to develop new client services and products and communicate the changes to your clients? There is almost always another business that your client could choose to give their money to so don't become complacent.
Planning ahead will demonstrate to your clients that you are as interested and as passionate about their business as they are and that's what your clients want. It is likely that with technical changes, there will be additional resources required to cope with client communication and to help them understand the impacts that the changes will have on them.
Our lives seem to get busier and busier. We all seem to have more work to do than ever. Good planning helps to create a sense of order and helps to reduce unnecessary pressure, which is surely something that we would all benefit from. The best ideas are usually created when we allocate sufficient time to create them!
Remember, the Benjamin Franklin quote 'If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail'? Experience shows that there's definitely some truth in that.