2007 – Ready, Set, Plan.

When I called and looked for pricing to get a facilitator to conduct a two-day strategic planning workshop for my group, I was amazed at the kind of money these people are getting to come in and lead this conversation.

After calling around to four well-known organizational-development consultants and comparing the prices with the deliverables, I decided to go about leading the planning myself.

The first thing I had to do was to see what my intention of creating the plan was, like why I was planning in the first place. Well, I want to take my business to the next level. I want to deliver even better service to my candidates and clients; I want to diversify my recruitment methods; I want to diversify my client base; and I want an employee’s total compensation to not only be contingent on their production volume, but also on the quality of their work. Ok, so just a few things to discuss and hammer out in a few days time.

I went digging for all the planning documents I had used over the past 22 years, when I was planning for myself, when I was working for someone else and planning for my team, and when planning for my own company. The first document I uncovered was the “What do you Expect to get out of Planning” document, which covers overall concerns with planning, who will lead the facilitation, how long the planning session will last, the critical issues facing the company at the time of planning, the time you’ll devote to planning, who will help with the plan, internal sources, or external sources.

I decided that I would facilitate, and that everyone who does anything for the company would be involved: recruiters, sales, management, front line, and accounting. I figured if I wanted an empowered workforce, I ought to ask everyone, at least to speak their opinion on alterative ideas, and to bring the group together, so they feel as if they had a part in not only the planning phase, but determining the compensation for achieving the plan.

The next document I looked into was the Environment Scan Worksheet. This document called for customer surveys, candidate surveys, reviewing the company’s current state – in sales, in percentage of temp business, percentage of perm business, the split in administrative and general business placement versus management placement, the fill ratios, the misery index ratios, the number of candidates in, the sendout to placement ratios, the unfilled orders, and not only for ’06, but for three years’ back. When I saw all the material I had to gather and assess, my brain said, “just wing it;” your gut and brain have never let you down before; however, my commitment was to really conduct a specific placement industry strategic planning session using data, modeling and live customer feedback, so I pressed on.

Again, I had to look at the critical issues facing not only my company, but our industry as a whole, my niche market, and my geographical market.

Per the same document, it required that I get the industry operating standards so we could compare what we were doing with what the best in the business are doing. Additionally, the Environmental Scan worksheet suggested that we take a look at aspects inside that are working and that are not, the good old strengths and weaknesses of the organization, as well as aspects outside of the organization that can affect us, sociologically, economically, politically, and technically.

The Environmental Scan recommends speaking to industry experts, in the industry who support the industry, and who are stakeholders in the industry. Their whole concept on an environmental scan is to get a bandwidth of information, and then sort the critical from the superfluous, and then make solid business moves based on the good information that you gather. One of the final pieces in preparing for the two-day strategic business planning meeting was to determine where I wanted the company to be in three to five years. Even though this plan was only for 18 months, I wanted to make sure that wherever I take this company, it is headed in the right direction for 2012.

“The Strategic Direction Worksheet” is sort of a dream sheet, in a perfect world, ‘who’ would my company be being, where would we be geographically, physically, and financially; who would we be serving, what services would we be offering, and how would we get paid. There is a book that really teaches this concept, and it is called, “Attracting Perfect Customers,” by Stacey Hall and Jan Brogniez.

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The final piece in planning to plan was setting the agenda. I went online, looked for samples, and came up with some cool games that would get us in the frame of mind. We will be playing the “Beer Game,” which is a game of supply and demand, where the participants get to see and experience the real life version of too many orders, not enough supply, and they develop communication strategies for working within an unpredictable system; not unlike staffing and recruiting.

Another game we will be playing is called “Cash Flow, by Robert Kiyosaki, “Rich Dad Poor Dad,” so that the participants can really experience for themselves what truly being in charge of your own destiny can provide.

And finally, we are doing an expertise on situational leadership, as when working in a high-performance team, each person will have to step up and take over for certain search projects. Situational leadership not only aids someone in determining their preferred style of management, but it aids in determining how someone manages, and how oftentimes, the style that works for them does not empower others to operate at peak performance.

I engage in planning very soon, so I am sure I will have peaks and valleys in the process, and I’d be happy to share what worked and didn’t with you. One thing I know for sure is that after doing all this work, the surveys, having my employees do the surveys, and looking at the numbers, everyone is right on track with where we have been, what our customers want, and what we need to do to grow. You’re probably thinking that this is a lot of work, but wouldn’t it make more sense to plan, and then work your plan, versus working with no plan, only to find out that you were working in vain?

Margaret Graziano, CPC, CTS, and mother of three, has been a top producer in the staffing and recruiting industry for the past 20 years and owned her own firm since 1991. She prides herself on client retention, making the right hires. She has earned over $5,000,000 in personal ‘desk production’ income and has placed over 2,000 candidates in direct-hire positions. With the competitive business world and the war on talent in full force Margaret’s company, Alliance HR Network, has ventured into new realms of talent acquisition, organizational development, and human capital consulting services, thus diversifying Alliance’s revenue streams and gaining new and exciting talent acquisition and assessment consulting opportunities. Margaret’s e-mail is mgraziano@alliancehrnetwork.com, and her phone number is (847) 690-0077.

The strategic planning forms are listed under a Strategic Planning Downloads section at this site: http://www.alliancehrnetwork.com/employers/industry_training.asp

Magi Graziano, as seen on NBC, is the CEO of Conscious Hiring® and Development, a speaker, employee recruitment and engagement expert and author of The Wealth of Talent. Through her expansive knowledge and captivating presentations, Magi provides her customers with actionable, practical ideas to maximize their effectiveness and ability to create high-performing teams. With more than 20 years’ experience as a top producer in the Recruitment and Search industry, she empowers and enables leaders to bring transformational thinking to the day-to-day operation. For more information on Magi please visit www.KeenAlignment.com.    

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