Usually, the six month mark is the time to review progress against goals and update strategic thinking, based on changes to planning assumptions. But, with the global pandemic, this year is far from usual. Given this, is a mid-year check-in against plans made last year still a wise use of your time? I think it is precisely the right use of management's time, especially with the changes we have experienced in recent months, however how you conduct this review should be modified.
Three reasons a mid-year planning discussion is critical now and how to modify this year's meeting to move from responding to the pandemic to managing through it.
- To acknowledge reality. I have noticed that even with my friends in first responder positions, they have not fully embraced that our way of living has changed until there is a vaccine administered to the majority of people living on this planet. Although a vaccine may be found in record time, the manufacturing and administering of it will take months. I believe we will be living very differently with greater and lesser degrees of physical constraints for the next 18 – 24 months. Most businesses will operate with higher costs/lower profits, individuals will need to find ways to manage ever-present anxiety and stress, and communities will need to find ways to balance personal, economic, and public health demands. As leaders, we need to help our team members, suppliers, customers, and partners to embrace the long road ahead so we can plan to move along this journey together.
- To visibly move from reactive to proactive management. The stories of flexibility, creativity, patience, and support demonstrated over the early months of this pandemic have been remarkable. There is tremendous pride in the perseverance we have displayed and witnessed. And yet we are craving a sense of predictability to reduce our anxiety and increase our productivity. By taking the time to convene for a mid-year (virtual) planning meeting, you will make visible how you are moving to a more stable state and increase the productivity of your team.
- To not lose sight of your vision. For the first few months of the pandemic, we have been in reaction mode. Adopting new working conditions to comply with Shelter in Place orders, learning new technology to conduct our activities, and for many, developing an entirely new product or service offering to replace or temporarily augment our traditional business model. As communities “open back up” and economies attempt to regain momentum, we are shifting yet again. Given all these changes, it is important to reconnect with your long-range vision and update strategic plans to reflect your pandemic conditions.
Mid-year is the ideal time to convene and reflect on today’s constraints and to move from managing tactically to thinking strategically about how to regain momentum.