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How to Plan the Content for a Company Annual Strategy Day

The annual company strategy day can be loved and loathed by employees in equal measures. There will always be staff who embrace the opportunity to spend time with other colleagues, find out more about the wider business and review its current processes, whilst there will be others who just want to do their day job and have absolutely no interest in any of the above. But a company strategy day can be extremely beneficial in terms of reenergising engaged employees and may be even converting some of the nay-sayers. However, such a day can also be a costly affair. Not only financially, but also in terms of time as they require a great deal of organisation. But as with most things the more time and preparation you put in upfront the greater the rewards. So, what needs to be considered during the planning stages to guarantee an event that will be both informative and motivational?

Aims and objectives
The most important question to ask when organising the annual strategy day is ‘Why?’ and the answer shouldn’t be ‘because we had one last year’. In order to justify the cost and disruption of a day out of the office then there must be good reasons for doing so. There are many great reasons why a strategy day should take place from celebrating successes and reviewing working practises to planning for change to improving employee engagement. But without defining what you want to achieve in the first instance, it will be extremely difficult to plan the content and decide who needs to be involved to ensure it is planned efficiently and it will generate some effect outcomes.

What to cover
As it eludes to in the title an annual strategy day only occurs once a year, and because of this it can be really tempting to cram as much information into the day as possible. However, this is extremely counter-productive. By bombarding employees with facts and figures it is likely that they will leave the event more disengaged than when they arrived. It is much more effective to pick 3 or 4 key messages them you want to get across and clearly state and reiterate them throughout the day so that they are engrained by the end of the event. You can’t solve all of the businesses problems in one day, but by thoroughly tackling a handful will be a major step forward.

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The target audience
One of the main problems of a company-wide strategy day is that you have a diverse audience to cater for from senior managers and sale personnel to secretaries and IT support. The agenda must appeal to all of them at a certain level for the event to be considered a success across the board. There will be messages that will need to be addressed to everyone, but small group and break-out sessions can be planned as part of the agenda for a more targeted approach.

Also, one of the worst thing you can do at a strategy day is gather all your employees in a large room and talk at them for the entire duration. If you want them to take something away from the day you must engage them as much as possible. This may take a bit more time preparing and an increase in budget, but it will be worthwhile as the messages that are delivered are more likely to be retained. Examples of different formats include bite size presentations, quizzes, table top exhibitions, role plays and fact hunts.

Delegation
Believe it or not, but the senior managers within your business may not always be to best people to present information to your workforce. A strategy day is the perfect opportunity to get all areas of the businesses involved and staff may even respond better to being spoken to by a peer rather than a senior manager as they will be able to relate more closely to their counterparts.

Also, other people within the organisation maybe able to come up with more innovative ways to communicate the information more effectively. Delegating responsibilities can make the event a much more enjoyable experience and staff will come away retaining a lot more information.

Return on investment
One of the biggest mistakes companies make when investing in an annual strategy day is not following through after the event. There maybe an initial peak in moral throughout the workforce after spending some time with colleagues away from the office, but after a few days of getting back to the day-to-day things go back to normal and it is as if the event never even happened.

To avoid this happening the aims and objectives of the day must be revisited and targets and measurements need to be put in place to monitor the impact of the outcomes of the strategy day on the business. For example, if one of the aims was to reinforce the company core values then a survey should carried out amongst staff to see if the understanding of what the company stands for has improved. Alternatively, if working processes were reviewed then implementation goals need to be set and resulting improvements in performance needs to be measured.

Improvements that have occurred within the business which were a direct result of the annual strategy day must be regularly fed back to the board and employees as this will demonstrate its validity of the event.

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