10 Strategic Planning Troublemakers
Strategic planning is a critical process for AE firms, guiding their direction and growth. However, amidst the brainstorming sessions and goal-setting meetings, there are certain individuals who can really gum up the works. Here we identify 10 types of disruptive characters, explore how they can hinder strategic planning efforts, and provide suggestions on how to help them become productive members of your team.
1. Clyde Cynic
Clyde Cynic is the perpetual naysayer, always quick to shoot down ideas without offering constructive feedback. During strategic planning sessions, Clyde dampens enthusiasm by highlighting potential pitfalls without proposing solutions.
Clyde Cynic in action: During a recent strategic planning session, Clyde dismissed a proposal to expand into a new market, citing potential risks and challenges without offering alternatives. His pessimistic outlook dampened the team’s enthusiasm, leaving them feeling discouraged and unmotivated.
How to help Clyde Cynic: Encourage Clyde to voice concerns but also challenge him to suggest alternative approaches. Redirect the conversation towards problem-solving rather than dwelling on obstacles.
2. Distracted Dana
Distracted Dana is notorious for her inability to focus during meetings. She frequently checks her phone, doodles on her notepad, or engages in side conversations, derailing the flow of strategic discussions.
Distracted Dana in action: Last month, as the team discussed key priorities for the upcoming year, Dana continuously checked her phone, occasionally chiming in with irrelevant comments. Her lack of focus derailed the conversation, prolonged the meeting, irritated the rest of the team, and prevented meaningful progress.
How to help Distracted Dana: Set clear meeting agendas and ground rules for participation. Assign Distracted Dana specific tasks to keep her engaged, and constructively remind her of the importance of active, focused participation.
3. Micromanaging Max
Micromanaging Max tends to delve into minutiae, losing sight of the bigger picture. He insists on controlling every aspect of the strategic planning process, stifling creativity and innovation.
Micromanaging Max in action: Throughout last year’s strategic planning process, Max insisted on reviewing every detail of the strategic plan from font sizes to color schemes, micromanaging the creative process. His fixation on trivialities stifled innovation and creativity, frustrating team members who felt their autonomy was compromised.
How to help Micromanaging Max: Establish clear roles and responsibilities for team members, emphasizing trust and autonomy. Encourage Max to delegate tasks and focus on overarching goals rather than toiling away on the details.
4. Debbie Dream-Crusher
Debbie Dream-Crusher has a knack for extinguishing enthusiasm with her pessimistic outlook. She dismisses ambitious ideas as unrealistic and insists on sticking to safe, conventional strategies.
Debbie Dream-Crusher in action: In the early stages of the strategic plan, when a team member proposed an ambitious goal to double revenue within the next two years, Debbie immediately shot down the idea, citing budget constraints and market uncertainties. Her negative attitude out of the gate extinguished enthusiasm, leaving the team feeling deflated and uninspired.
How to help Debbie Dream-Crusher: Acknowledge Debbie’s concerns but challenge her to explore the potential benefits of bold initiatives. Remind her that, at this early stage, the goal is to encourage big, bold thoughts from the team. There will be plenty of time to diverge thinking later in the process.
5. Procrastinating Pete
Procrastinating Pete always leaves tasks until the last minute, causing delays and disruptions in the strategic planning process. He frequently misses deadlines and fails to follow through on commitments.
Procrastinating Pete in action: Despite being assigned a crucial research task weeks in advance, Pete waited until the day before the strategic planning meeting to start his work. His procrastination caused delays in the decision-making process, forcing the team to rush through discussions without adequate preparation.
How to help Procrastinating Pete: Break down tasks into smaller, manageable chunks with clear deadlines. Hold Pete accountable for his responsibilities and provide support, encouragement, and perhaps executive coaching to help him overcome procrastination habits.
6. Egoistic Emily
Egoistic Emily constantly seeks validation and recognition, often at the expense of collaboration. She monopolizes discussions, disregards input from other team members, and prioritizes her own agenda over collective goals.
Egoistic Emily in action: During a brainstorming session, Emily dominated the conversation, dismissed any ideas that weren’t hers, and relentlessly pushed her own agenda. Her unwillingness to consider alternative viewpoints stifled collaboration, creating significant tension within the team.
How to help Egoistic Emily: Foster a culture of inclusivity and collaboration where every team member’s contribution is valued. Provide candid feedback to Emily, balanced with encouragement to actively listen to others and recognize the importance of teamwork in achieving strategic objectives.
7. Change-Averse Charlie
Change-Averse Charlie is resistant to new ideas and approaches, clinging to traditional methods even when they no longer serve the firm’s interests. He views strategic planning as a threat to the status quo and resists any attempts to innovate.
Change-Averse Charlie in action: When presented with innovative strategies to adapt to changing market trends by some of the firm’s rising leaders, Charlie immediately dismissed them as unnecessary and insisted on maintaining the firm’s existing business model. His resistance to change hindered the firm’s ability to stave off rivals who were nipping at their heels.
How to help Change-Averse Charlie: Educate Charlie about the benefits of embracing change and adaptability in a dynamic industry. Highlight success stories of firms that have pivoted in response to changing market conditions. Be clear about what would change and—at least as important—what would not.
8. Overbearing Olivia
Overbearing Olivia dominates discussions with her strong personality, leaving little room for input from others. She imposes her opinions on the group and ridicules dissenting views, creating a stifling atmosphere.
Overbearing Olivia in action: Several months ago, Olivia dominated the strategic planning kickoff meeting, cutting off other team members and marginalizing their contributions. Her overbearing demeanor intimidated quieter team members, stifling open communication and collaboration. Buy-in ended up being a big problem throughout the rest of the process, and predictably, implementation of major initiatives was practically non-existent.
How to help Overbearing Olivia: Facilitate open and inclusive discussions where every team member uses their voice early and often. Encourage Olivia to practice active listening and consider alternative perspectives. Help her distinguish between assertions and assessments, and coach her to listen for comprehension, not agreement.
9. Perfectionist Paul
Perfectionist Paul sets impossibly high standards for himself and others, leading to unrealistic expectations and undue pressure. He fixates on minor details and delays decision-making in pursuit of an unattainable level of perfection.
Perfectionist Paul in action: Paul obsessed over minor details of the strategic plan, spending hours nitpicking grammar and formatting instead of focusing on overarching goals. His perfectionism slowed down the decision-making process and exasperated team members eager to make progress.
How to help Perfectionist Paul: Emphasize the importance of progress over perfection, focusing on incremental improvements rather than striving for flawless outcomes. Help Paul prioritize tasks and set realistic goals to avoid paralysis by analysis.
10. Neglectful Nadia
Neglectful Nadia is disengaged and indifferent during strategic planning sessions, showing little interest in the firm’s long-term goals. She fails to prepare adequately and contributes minimally to discussions, hindering progress.
Neglectful Nadia in action: During last week’s strategic planning session, Nadia remained silent and disengaged, failing to contribute meaningfully to the discussion. She appeared unprepared and indifferent to the firm’s long-term goals, hindering progress and infuriating her colleagues.
How to help Neglectful Nadia: Provide Nadia with clear expectations and communicate the importance of her participation in strategic planning efforts. Offer support and guidance to help her understand the significance of her role in shaping the firm’s future.
By recognizing and effectively managing the diverse challenges presented by disruptive behaviors, you can cultivate a collaborative environment conducive to envisioning your firm’s future and crafting a roadmap to achieve it.
For more information on how Morrissey Goodale can help your strategic planning process, call Mark Goodale at 508.254.3914 or email [email protected].