Keith Ferazzi, author of Never Eat Alone, once said, “Follow-up is the key to success in any business.” That is certainly true when it comes to the success of your strategic plan. No matter what great strategies you create, if you don’t execute that plan with superior follow-up you just have words on paper.

Think about your current 2015 strategic plan. How’s it going for you? Think about to your Fall planning schedule and meeting. How are those lofty goals, tactics and budget projections looking now that the first quarter is complete?

With three months in the books, the second quarter is an ideal time to assess how your strategic planning follow-up is going. Here are five suggestions to ensure your follow-up is as strong as possible.

  • Review weekly—You read that right: weekly. Too many times, strategic plans collect dust and we only look at them at monthly or quarterly updates. If you hold a “C” suite position at your financial institution, then every Monday morning (or even Sunday night) take 10-15 minutes to review your goals and strategy. Ask yourself, “what are we doing this week to accomplish these objectives?”
  • Receive feedback—Your staff can give valuable insights on how things are really going at your credit union or bank. Conduct an employee survey and ask them for feedback on your goals and your execution. A simple four or five question staff survey can help you understand your strategy strengths and shortcomings. One question you can ask is, “on a scale of 1 to 10, how well do you understand our strategic plan and the role you play?”
  • Compare peers—While it’s not a race, you certainly do want to keep an eye on how your peers are performing compared to your own institution. Are loans up, down or flat? Are they growing assets and how is their income looking? Spending some time looking at peer data and analysis can quickly help you determine if your strategic plan is working or failing. You don’t even have to pull reports. You can simply call five nearby peer and ask, “How is your year going?”
  • Communicate updates—From a follow-up standpoint, one of the best things you can do is to always be communicating with your staff how things are going. Execution involves your staff. While we might initially communicate what the strategic plan is, sometimes we stop there with our own employees. Make sure you are talking with staff on a regular basis what your strategy is and how it’s going. You can even do this informally with small breakfast or coffee meetings where you ask, “What can we do better to accomplish our goals?”
  • Seek help—Sometimes you need an outsider’s perspective. So share your plan with a consultant, facilitator or even a CEO in another market. Having a second set of eyes on your plan might help you see something you missed. Ask “what would you do differently with our plan?”

Honestly, planning is the easy part. It’s the follow-up that can be a bear. Set your strategic plan up for success by implementing those key follow-up steps. Remember, what isn’t followed-up on isn’t done.

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