The Magic of Collaboration

The task of strategic planning can feel overwhelming at times, especially if it is the FIRST time you have attempted to include more than your partner group in the process. I would like to encourage you to push through the fear and make the decision to include more of your team – for them and for YOU. I recently facilitated a firm wide strategic planning session with a five partner, 20-member firm in California. They are a fantastic firm with partners that genuinely care about their team, and the future of the firm. They knew that they needed to take a more strategic approach to building a plan, and the original thought was to have only partners meet for a couple of days and knock out a plan.

I encouraged them to use a more collaborative model and invite their entire team to participate. They were open to the idea but were a little concerned about how the entire process would work. After two days of conversation, idea generation and friendly debate, the partners of the firm made a few terrific discoveries:

  • The Team Was Aligned: There was some concern that the staff would be on one page and the partners would be on another. That was not the case. The ideas that were generated by the entire group were built in tandem.  At the end of the planning session, everyone agreed it felt like they were of one mind. 
  • The Staff Had New and Good Ideas: To be honest, that fact that they had good ideas was not a surprise, but the fact that they had this forum to express those ideas was good for everyone – staff, partners and overall firm. The partners agreed that stopping work long enough to really listen and communicate made the entire event worth the time and dollars spent. 
  • The Energy Is Off The Chart: We often spend time and money trying to motivate our team. This collaborative event that enabled everyone to have a voice was more motivating than any other single initiative that they had tried in the past. Once again this proves to me that the team you surround yourself with is aching to be heard and to hear from you. 

Is collaboration magic? Maybe not magic since it does take a lot of work and commitment. However, the end result will feel like you waived a magic wand and found the voices and motivation for many on your team.

 

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Sandra Wiley, COO and Shareholder, is ranked by Accounting Today as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Accounting as a result of her prominent role as an industry expert on HR and training as well as influence as a management and planning consultant. She is also a founding member of The CPA Consultant's Alliance. Sandra is a certified Kolbe™ trainer who advises firms on building balanced teams, managing employee conflict and hiring staff. Sandra directs Boomer Consulting, Inc's annual Talent Development Advantage, a community of HR learning and human capital leaders focused on talent development through shared intellectual capital, peer networking, and collaboration.

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