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Get Team Support for Your Business Plan

Business planning buzzwords tend to have plenty in common with hula-hoops and pet rocks: They achieve wild popularity one day and become clichés the next. But one buzzword has never gone out of fashion, and that’s teamwork. Whether your company is a small shop or a sprawling multinational, if more than one person is responsible for the work, teamwork is critical to your success.

When your employees feel like they’re part of a team, they have more incentive to work hard and work together instead of cruising on parallel tracks or even working against each other. As a result of teamwork, one plus one can actually equal three because team players often produce results that are greater than the sum of their individual contributions.

Teams are inherently strong, so a business culture that encourages teamwork can help carry you and your employees through the bad times as well as the good.

Distribute your plan

Your plan lays out your company’s mission, vision, and values. It also sets the ground rules and establishes your game plan, so you should share it with the people you count on to help you achieve victory. See that everyone on your team is familiar with your plan, clear about the strategy, comfortable with their roles, and in tune with exactly what has to be done to be successful.

Give each member of your management team a copy of your plan to read carefully. Distribute the most important parts of your plan to your entire staff — at meetings, in a newsletter, or on your intranet. By doing so, you

  • Promote teamwork: If you want your employees to work together to make your business plan work, they need to know what’s in the plan. Each of your employees should know your company’s mission, basic strategy, major goals, and plan of action.

  • Create a sense of ownership: Your business plan serves as a blueprint for what you want your company to become. By sharing this information with employees, you show them how their personal involvement contributes to making the plan a reality.

  • Link individual and company performance: By evaluating your people in relation to key goals and objectives in your business plan, you underscore why their performances really matter.

  • Generate feedback and new ideas: At all levels of your organization, employees are a great resource — whether they offer new ideas or simply a reality check. Make sure that they’re familiar with what your company is working to accomplish and encourage their input.

You don’t need to spring pop quizzes to test staff knowledge of your business plan. But by giving the plan to employees and encouraging them to read it, you cultivate company-wide understanding of where your company wants to go and how you plan to get there. If your plan is more than ten pages long, consider creating a shorter version to accompany your employee handbook.

Each time you revise your business plan, get the word out to everyone on your staff. Highlight the changes that you’ve made and explain why. If your company has an internal newsletter, use it to describe the revised plan and its features. If you have an intranet, publish the new plan on it along with answers to a list of questions you think employees may have.

Guide and motivate remote employees

If some or all of your staff works remotely, using your business plan to promote teamwork is especially important. Not sure if remote employees are right for your business? The answer may be yes if

  • Telecommuting is an important perk that will help you snare top job seekers.

  • You can effectively manage employees who work remotely.

  • You can clearly define the duties of remote employees.

  • You can easily measure the productivity of remote employees.

Remote employees may not be such a good idea for your organization if

  • Your company’s creativity depends on employees brainstorming together.

  • The equipment required for working at home is expensive to buy or maintain.

  • You’ll have trouble motivating and managing employees who work outside the office.

  • The nature of your business involves frequent or spur-of-the-moment meetings.

A well-known Internet company recently made headlines over the issue of telecommuting. For years, the company had encouraged employees to work at home. But when a new CEO took charge, she worried that management couldn’t effectively oversee a large workforce working remotely. She was also convinced that the old policy robbed the company of the kind of brainstorming that occurs when employees chat over coffee in the office.

When she ordered telecommuting employees back to the office, many of them voiced their objections. So did advocates of social networking technologies outside the company, who see telecommuting as the wave of the future. Some critics warned that the company would have trouble hiring talented employees because of the new ban on telecommuting. But the CEO stood by her decision. Only time will tell if she made the right decision.

If managing remote employees makes good business sense, use your business plan to help guide them and keep them motivated in the following ways:

  • Give all remote employees a copy of the business plan, including the mission statement, vision statement, and goals and objectives.

  • Spell out special policies regarding remote employees in the business plan.

  • Make sure remote employees are part of strategic planning sessions that affect their work.

  • Notify remote employees about changes to the business plan, even if those changes don’t directly affect them.

  • Find every opportunity to remind remote employees that they’re integral parts of the team.

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