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
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.
You may download the Tracking Candidate Priorities worksheet below.