Strategic Planning: How to Engage Different Work Styles

By Erica Olsen

Of course, everyone thinks like you, right? As a good leader, you know that’s not the case. Unfortunately, sometimes you forget what’s obvious and end up structuring a meeting based on your own preferences. In reality, stepping in to other people’s shoes and ways of thinking is a difficult task. But in strategic planning, you want everyone in the room engaged.

To get everyone engaged, make sure to secure a comfortable environment. People feel the most comfortable when they’re operating in their own thinking preference. Do you see any of your team members in the following descriptions?

  • Enjoys big-picture thinking: These people get fired up talking about the mission, vision, and long-term strategies of the organization.

  • Finds big-picture discussions frustrating: This group would rather get down to business. They want to know what you’re going to do this year, who’s going to do it, and when it’s going to be done. These people are your goal setters and action planners.

  • Wants to analyze all possible options before making a decision: This group wants to feel completely comfortable with the direction selected. These analyzers are great at synthesizing data from the SWOT and developing your SWOT analysis. Some people think this tactic feels like the discussion is going in circles.

  • Wants to make sure that all opinions are included: These people don’t want to move on until everyone in the room has voiced his or her ideas. This group is your meeting minders. They make sure everyone is buying into the plan that’s being developed.

You may not have all thinking types in your planning session, but by acknowledging that not everyone is going to be comfortable in all aspects of the planning process, you can structure the meeting and manage the discussion accordingly. To do so, first ask your employees which of the four thinking types they most closely identify with. Then explain which part of your agenda addresses each thinking type.