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On-Demand: Your Strategic Roadmap

May 26, 2021

We discussed how a strategic roadmap can help companies re-think their strategic direction, effectively plan for the future, mitigate risks and grow their value.


Diane Batistoni:My name is Dianne Batistoni. I'm a partner in the Insurance Industry Services Group here at EisnerAmper. I would like to thank you for attending today and welcome everyone. Today's webinar is the second in our three part series on the human side of the insurance industry, with today's focus being your strategic plan.

Diane Batistoni:Famous author, Lewis Carroll's exchange between Alice and the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland stories is often paraphrased as, "If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there." Some strategy experts have been known to say that not having a strategy leads you nowhere, but I would rather say that you will somewhere but it might not be where you wished for.

I've worked with insurance entities for over 30 years as an advisor, auditor, and contract regulator, and I've seen firsthand that the insurance entities face a lot of challenges, and these challenges are ever-changing. The need to be strategic in facing challenges is becoming increasingly evident as competition intensifies, regulation increases, and the global landscape changes with increasing rapidity.

I'm happy to introduce Matt Kerzner as our speaker today. Matt is a director at EisnerAmper and has more than 25 years experience in organizational development, specializing in assisting clients with developing a strategic plan and with transition and succession planning, among other areas. Please remember that you can submit questions in the Q&A box throughout our presentation and we'll try to get to those throughout and at the end of the presentation. And don't forget that we have another part in our series on June 23rd entitled, Successful Succession Transition Strategies. And I will now turn it over to Matt.

Matt Kerzner:Thank you, Dianne. It's a pleasure to be with you as well as everybody who is tuning in to the webinar today. I look forward to spending the next 55+ minutes with all of you going through the strategic roadmap activities that I do with my clients, prospective clients. So I enjoy doing this and I'm going to enjoy the time with you today.

So the first slide that I actually would like to share is what we call the strategic roadmap. It's the actual visual of what the strategic roadmap looks like. And I love that it's in a pyramid pointing upward, because I always like to say that the strategic roadmap is a compass to help you point in the right direction of where you want to go.

Also when I go through the strategic roadmap, I would like to understand that this could be a one, three, or five year strategic process. I always say that your goals should be short-term, medium, and long-term range. So when we go through this today, I do want you to think that this could be done in one year, three years, and five years.

So what you see here is for each block, and I'm going to break these down throughout the webinar, is the first one is the mission. Why we exist. The secondary I'm going to cover is core values. What do we believe in? The third one is the vision, what do we want to be? And it's really important once you understand those, then we're going to get into goals, setting objectives and goals. What do we want to get accomplished, not just at the senior level, but all throughout the organization or the association?

And then, we're going to look at strategies and measures. What is our game plan? How do we know how we're doing? What's the score? And I always like to say, when you're developing your goals and your strategies, there are three major buckets that you should be looking into. And when I work with my clients, we can add as many other silos for areas as the organization or agency needs. But these are the three that I always look at when I'm going through my discovery process with the organization.

The first one is business development, how do you grow your business? The second one is operation efficiency, how do you do things better, faster, more efficient? And the third one is people, the people that work for your organization, getting them ready and getting the right people in the right place at the right time. And I'm going to cover that in more detail as we go through this.

And once you do that and once you start developing the goals, then you need to start putting projects or initiatives together so we all need to know what we need to do as individuals in order to make this strategic plan come alive. And obviously that gets into the individual actions and also the word accountability is going to be extremely important. How do we hold ourselves accountable? And as supervisors, managers, leaders of an organization, how do you give feedback to your employees to let them know how they're doing towards their goals? Not only for themselves individually, the departments that they work in, but also how they're making an impact to the organization. And that's where we're going to get into a little bit of setting up a feedback process in order to make sure your employees know that what they're doing is adding value to the organization.

All right. So let's jump right in and start doing this. So the first one that we talked about was the mission. Why we exist. And really what I want to cover here is, it's a statement, it's a brief description of the company's fundamental purpose. It answers the question, why does the business exist? So, what I would like to share with you is just a couple simple mission statements that I grabbed that I'd like to share with you.

The first one is Nike, and this one is, theirs is, bringing inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. Right? So very simple statement, but wow, does it hit you. The second one that I want to share with you is Jet Blue, and theirs is, to inspire humanity both in the air and on the ground. Another powerful one. And then I like to share, since I work for EisnerAmper and I think we have a great missions. Ours is to foster an environment that encourages individual advancement. The firm sponsors a number of initiatives which acknowledges those differences. I think it's great.

So it's really important when you're putting your mission, you want to really explain to your both internal customers and your external customers, which is your vendors, your customers, exactly why you exist as an organization. So it's really important. It does take some time to come up with your mission, but you want to make it in a simplistic way as possible and only have one or two sentences that can really describe why you exist.

Let's move on to the next thing. This is core values. This is what we believe in. And here's some examples that are on the slide here, we believe in doing what is right for the company, developing a partnership both internally and externally with our customers, fostering discipline and standard approach to the work we produce. Encouraging and enabling continuous improvement and learning. And seek out partnerships and advisors that can help influence the future.

So, core values, really I like to say, are statements, are words, action words. And behind those words are those meanings that all employees can get behind and it's really educate and what we believe in. So I'll just share EisnerAmper's vision. Not vision, I apologize, values. And I'm only going to mention four of them. First one is client focus. The second one is accountability. The third one is principle. And the fourth One is relationship-oriented.

And as you can see on the slide here, there's some additional words here, like people, integrity, innovation, shared prosperity. These are words that once there are meaning behind them and all employees understand them, we can then live up to our core values and make a huge difference in our organization, both internally and externally to the customers that we supply or work for.

So these are core values, really what we believe in. When I work with my clients, I have several hundred action words that I explore with them and we do a few exercises to find what words really mean something to their organization. And then we define them to make sure everybody is on the same page with the meaning. So these are core values.

Let's move on to the one. The next one is vision. What do we want to be? And I love this picture up here where it says mission and vision and you see past and future. It is so critical that an organization understands where they were in the past, where they are currently today, before they can even think about what they want to be in the future.

So a vision statement is the organization's declaration of the mid and long-term goals. So I always say, you should put your goals together before you actually put your vision statement together. So just an example, EisnerAmper's vision statement is to help clients get down to the business of building success. We want to make our clients successful, so that's what we want to be. We want to strive for success.

So it's a simple statement, but it is a declaration of what you're going to accomplish with the goals that you're working on. I love working with organizations to help them understand their mission, vision, and values. If you already have them, it's one of the things when we're doing the strategic road map, we will put them out, we will look at them, we will go through this whole exercise of putting goals together, working on the accountability for individuals, and then we'll come back to the mission, vision, and values and see if anything needs to change based on what you're putting together for your future plan.

So the next one I want to cover a little bit is what we call that SWOT analysis, and SWOT simply stands for strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats. And before you can put together some of the goals that you want to accomplish, you really want to understand your business. Your internal influences, your external influences, and what you're really good at and what you really need to work on to improve.

So, objectives and goals is what we want to accomplish, it's a very clear, measurable statements, we're going to get into that, and in order to develop those, you really need to do this SWOT analysis. So when I work with my clients and let's say, for example, I'm working with an executive board or the leadership or first group of employees coming together, I will make sure that all voices are heard in a room and I want to know what you're really good at. What are your strengths? What are you really good at?

And then after we do that, we then go to our weaknesses. And these are areas that you can improve on. And the key thing here is when you identify weaknesses, it is not something negative, it's looking at how you could improve on those weaknesses to either make them a strength, or a future opportunity. If you can turn a weakness into a strength, or create a workaround in that weakness, it is going to really make the strategic plan come alive.

The opportunities are all the things that you want to accomplish as an organization. What are the opportunities? And then the last thing is what are the threats? What is getting in your way as an organization that is keeping you from moving forward? Is it competition? Is it capacity of what you can do? Is it labor? There's a shortage of labor, or you just can't get good, quality skilled individuals? That could be a threat, could be a weakness. But you really need to identify each one of these in order to really analyze your organization, to make sure that when you're thinking about the future, short, medium, and long-term, that you're really capturing as much as you possibly can in your SWOT analysis.

Okay. What I would like to cover next is putting the goals together. Working the goals that you want to accomplish. So now that you've started thinking about your mission, vision, and values, what are the goals that you want to accomplish? And I'm going to introduce those three areas that I mentioned earlier, business development, operation efficiency, and people, but when you start putting your goals together, you want to make sure that they're in this SMART format.

SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and there's a time frame of when you want to accomplish it. So here's an example. I always use this example, I love it. When John F. Kennedy, when he was president of the United States in the early 1960s, he made a goal. What he didn't say, "We want to land a man on the moon." That is a goal, right? He wanted to accomplish by getting a man on the moon.

However that goal is not in a SMART format. But changing the words around a little bit and putting a time frame on it really makes it a SMART goal. So what John F. Kennedy did say was, "By the end of the decade, we would like to land, or we will land a man on the moon." So, and you know what? I'm going to do this activity with Dianne. So Dianne, here's a question for you, based on what I just said, was that a very specific goal?

DB:Yes. Absolutely.

MK:Right. It was specific, right? Measurable, right? Is that goal measurable?

DB:Yes, because it gave us a specific thing that he wanted to accomplish.

MK:Right. So you can go back and measure it and the fact that we, I'm going to jump to time based, and the goal was, by the end of the decade. So that means in 1970, we can look back and see, did we or did we not land a man on the moon? That's what makes it measurable, right? The fact that you can measure that goal.

Now, Dianne, is it attainable? Was that goal attainable in the early 60s to make that statement?

DB:I mean, in hindsight, yes. Maybe at the time it seemed like a little bit of a stretch.

MK:Yep. The word stretch is actually the right word to use here, because you don't want to make it so easy that it's not going to stretch or really make a difference. You want to make sure that it is stretching your organization to reach its full potential.

Now, it was attainable back then because we already orbited the earth, we already had the science and the math that told us that we can do this, right? But it was definitely a stretch. Never gone to the moon, so at the time, that said we could do it.

No Dianne, why is this relevant? Why was it relevant for President Kennedy to make that goal in the early 60s?

DB:I don't know.

MK:Okay. That's okay. It was relevant because of the Cold War, right? We were in Cold War with Russia at the time and we needed, we wanted and we needed, for morale purposes of our country, to beat the Russians to getting a man on the moon. So it was relevant at the time because of the Cold War. And the fact that he said, "By the end of the decade," put a time based on it. So putting goals together, you absolutely want to follow this simple model.

Make it measurable, very specific, very clear. Measurable. At the end of whatever timeframe you can go back and said, "We did it or we didn't," and you can give a grade to that, and I'm going to cover that when I show a scorecard down the road of what organizations can use to hold themselves accountable and measure the goals that they are setting for themselves. So it's very important.

DB:So Matt, I have a question for you. In the measurable and attainable category, so the example that you give is pretty easy to determine yes or no. I'm assuming that not all of your goals will follow that black or white, yes or no answers. And so is that something that we're going to get to later in the presentation on when you fall into that gray area, how do you determine whether you've met those goals or not?

MK:Yeah. Great question. So the key thing here is, in order to make it measurable, it is a yes or no technically because you're going to look at what you've put down as a goal, and then simply state, did you accomplish it or not? Now you can also give yourself an A, B, C, D letter grade of how you're doing, because there could be other circumstances like COVID came in last year.

So some of the goals that organizations set for themselves obviously in 2020, you had to look at what really changed in the environment that maybe you didn't reach the goal 100% or an A. What factors might have changed the goal a little bit, the environment? So you really have to be able to say, "Okay, you know what? We only accomplished this 50%, but based on the environment or what was going on, we're actually very happy with that we did."

So measurable, you have to throw in other factors. The attainable piece, I always say, if something's not attainable, if I get a goal from my supervisor or from the organization and I did not get the training or the tools to do it, then the question's going to be, is this truly an attainable goal? Is the organization setting me up for failure because they didn't give me the resources that I need as an individual to get it done?

I actually use a formula, it's called Leadership + Training + Tools. If you have all three of those, then the goal should be attainable. Absolutely, it should be a stretch. And then the last one, the relevant piece, I know you asked about measurable and attainable, but the relevant one, if a goal is given to me and I do not get justification of how this makes an impact to the department or organization that I'm working in, then I should be asking, is this relevant to really making an impact to the organization?

Now, if it's personal development for myself, absolutely that's relevant. But if there's a goal that I don't have the skillset or the tools to do it, then I'm going to question the attainability of it. And also, if it's not relevant to my department or the organization or my personal development, then is it really a relevant goal?

Okay. Great. Going to move on. Dianne.

DB:Okay. So, we thought it would be important to discuss the impact of the regulatory environment on your objectives and goals. You'll see this little graphic that I put here at the bottom, looks sort of like a balancing act. A lot of companies see the regulatory or the goals of the regulators as somewhat suppressing your business goals, pushing downward while your organization goals are trying to push upward.

I think it's really important to understand that there's an alignment between the two, a give and a take. And it's important to align those regulatory and organizational goals in order to achieve a practical business planning, because there's an interplay between the risks an organization faces and the capital that they are able to deploy.

So some of the questions you want to ask yourselves are, does your organization's objectives and goals align with the regulatory environment that you operate in? Because insurance's state-based regulation, each state is a little bit different, and understanding what your regulators are looking for and what's important to them is going to be important to achieving your own goals of your organization.

Also that the regulators have become increasingly focused on prospective risks that the organization faces. The regulators are taking a more forward-looking look at insurance organizations when they do their examinations, they rely heavily on what the auditors have already done on historical verification. But they want to understand how your organization synthesizes its risks and looks at the future and understands what the future brings. So they'll be asking about your strategic planning process.

And then maybe even more importantly is your enterprise risk management and your own risk solvency assessment. Not all companies are actually doing a full blown ORSA analysis, but I would encourage you to spend some time looking at what's involved in an ORSA analysis. I mean it's really, its goal is to assess the risk and the solvency positions that your company faces under normal and stressed scenarios. So to look forward to the future, see what the impacts of things that you can anticipate and things that you might not be able to anticipate like a COVID is going to have on your capital position.

And then, the ability to integrate your strategic and capital planning with your ORSA plan and also with your enterprise risk management is a really good way to extract maximum value from the capital that you've deployed as an organization.

MK:That's great, Dianne. And I love the visual down there of the see-saw, of the balance between regulatory goals and organizational goals. And as I start getting into business development, operation efficiency, and people, you do need to not just think about organizations here, you need to also think about the external environment that we work in. You can't set a goal that, going back to relevant, if it's not within the regulatory requirements or the laws that are in play, then it's not relevant. It's actually not a good goal. Right, Dianne?

DB:Right. Exactly.

MK:So I think it's really important. So when I start getting into these areas of business development, operation efficiency, and people, Dianne, feel free if you choose to, to chime in a little bit about thinking about regulatory goals in this. You might want to just bring this back in, this slide, this visual, because again, you could be doing all the right things and getting all the right goals in place for your organization, but if you're not thinking of that external environment, you can run into major problems, or you can be having employees growing in a direction that is illegal, immoral, or unethical.

DB:Yeah. It also brings up the fact that all of these processes are living processes. So your strategic plan, your ORSA, your ERM are not one and dones, because there's a constant interplay. So as your strategy changes, that's going to affect your ORSA. As your ORSA changes, that's going to affect your strategies. So, it's important that these things are constantly being looked at on at least an annual basis.

MK:That's great. And when I get into people, Dianne, I'm going to get into a little bit of making sure that the employees have the skills, knowledge, and ability to understand the regulatory goals. Not this leadership or even middle management, but all employees should understand the regulatory goals or the regulatory laws and rules. So if they have goals that they need to work on, they can stay within those guidelines.

Great. Thank you. All right. So before I start breaking down into those three major areas, it goes back to the strategy, our game plan, understanding how we're doing. So, one of the things is when you're putting goals together, you absolutely want to make sure that you'll evaluating how you're doing. So you either want to give yourself, I always say giving yourself a letter grade on the goals that you're working on, A, B, C, D, or give yourself a number grade, like zero being you didn't work on it at all and five is you're doing extremely well. And then obviously the bell curve in between of one, two, three, four, up to five.

So you just need to have some time of system that you could evaluate yourself, because when you evaluate and you measure, you will see results. You will, if you are looking at these as leaders and your employees understand that you are evaluating them, they will step up and they will work on those goals. If you don't, then people don't realize that they're being held accountable and chances are, they're not going to be producing at the maximum level that you would want them to. So it's really important to understand the game plan.

So, here are some questions when I work with clients to get their minds going. In the area of business development, what do you need to do? What do you need to do to build revenue? Bring in business? To grow? So when we start thinking about strategic planning and business development, how are you going to grow your revenues? What are those goals? Do we want to increase profitability by 10% from last year? And once that's a goal, how are you going to go about doing that? And that's one of the projects that comes in regarding that goal.

Another one, another question is, how do we improve our competitive position? How do we maximize our competitive landscape out there? How do we get a bigger piece of that pie? And in another question that I always explore is, how do we develop formats and new business? How do we expand?

One thing is that we all learn from 2020, or going through the COVID experience, is we needed to pivot a little bit regarding how we go about doing business, right? Not having offices and working from home for a period of time, that changed the landscape a little bit for productivity. So how do we develop some formats in order to sustain, maintain, or even grow new business? So this is what we need by business development.

Now Dianne, just a quick question, in the world of insurance, can they substitute business development for something else? Or talk a little bit about business development in the area of insurance.

DB:Yeah. It's really important to remember that building revenue does not necessarily add to your bottom line, especially in the insurance industry where you may be riding a line of business that's a loss leader. So I've seen many times where insurance companies have decided to decrease their revenue in a certain line of business and actually increase their bottom line.

So it's really important to understand, what is the strategy and how does this development factor build into that strategy? Is it that we want to build revenue overall or do we want to build a certain type of revenue? Do we want to build a competitive position which may be different than just building revenue in a particular line of business?

So there's a lot of intricacies and there's also a lot of regulatory pressure in the business development area, expanding into a new state can have a lot of impact because the business might not be the same in that state and the regulatory requirements may not be the same in that state. You may write home owners in one state, write home owners in another state, and have to take on a whole new set of risks that you hadn't anticipated. So really important to think these things through and spend some time on it and use strategic planning.

MK:That's great. And what you brought up and what you started talking about are some of the threats that you just mentioned possible regarding the regulatory, that could be threats to an organization. And I don't mean that in a negative way, it just means that if you're not prepared or you're not following some of the guidelines like going into a new state or opening up a new business in a new state, that could be a threat to your organization if you're not following the regulatory rules. So, great example of that for business development.

So let's move on to operation efficiency. So, this is doing things better, faster, more quality. So looking at the way that you're doing things, I call this continuous improvement, improving corporate efficiency, reducing waste, looking at lean technology, not technology, lean processes in order to take out the stuff that you don't need. So looking at your processes, looking at your standard work, and saying, "Okay, from cradle to grave or from A to Z, what can we eliminate to do things better, faster, and not lose any of the quality?" So how do we cut out waste?

Whoops. I jumped that. So a couple things that I always say is how do we operate in a more efficient way without taking away from quality, as I mentioned. How do we improve our supply chain efficiency? And how do we seek out synergy activities within the organization within departments? One of the things, the beautiful thing about doing a strategic plan is it really can break down the silos between the departments in getting them to communicate so they could do things better and faster and getting all this to the customer in a way that's going to really make an impact.

So, some of the goals or objectives when I'm working with organizations in this area is looking at their ERP system, looking at the way that they communicate, their computer systems, their IT infrastructure, or lack thereof. Are they still doing ledgers on paper versus using a system? So it's introducing technology or outsourcing some of the work so you're really maximizing your productivity within the organization. All right? What could be outsourced? What could be eliminated? Or what could be, what I call, re-engineering so you get the most quality with eliminating the waste of what you're doing?

DB:One thing that's been really big in the insurance industry is what we call insured pack and this idea that there are a lot of legacy systems in the insurance world and getting them to speak to each other, the robotics has been a big thing, you may have a premium system or a claim system that doesn't automatically feed data to your general ledger system.

And also, this whole idea of data analytics has become really, really big in understanding your claims data and understanding your customers and understanding how to write your business better and more profitable.

MK:Excellent. Excellent.

DB:And I got a question about polling questions. I think we have our first polling question coming up shortly.

MK:Yep. We're getting there, but we're not there yet. We got one more slide to do and then we're going to get in. I just want to make sure I'm covering it before we get into the first polling question. So the last area, and I always say this is, I mean all three of these areas, business development, operation efficiency is very important, people is just as important as bringing in revenue and in eliminating the waste.

This is having the right people in the right place developing them, giving them reward and recognition, developing them and giving them the tools and skills needed, this is all about succession planning and maintaining and protecting your workforce, right? I'm hearing a lot when I'm working with organizations throughout the country and all different sectors is there is a shortage of skilled labor or even unskilled labor. So you want to make sure you're having the right people initiatives discussed in your strategic plan, acquiring the right talent, rewarding and recognizing and retaining and motivating your workforce is going to be very critical.

And then identifying your high potentials, those who are ready now, three years from now, five years from now, to succeed people in key positions. So having the right people in place and then setting up a coaching or a mentoring program to really help with the skills, knowledge, and ability to get your bench ready for when your growth is coming as an organization.

And then the last one is maintaining and protecting, and this one is developing your policies, your procedures, your hand books, and just make sure things are up to date. And this goes back to the regulatory, Dianne, if there's changes in the regulatory, you got to make sure that your policies and procedures are reflecting those changes.

And I always say, doing a strategic plan and revisiting it frequently, and we'll get into that later about how often you should, this is where you want to look at any changes in regulatory or governmental agencies that might impact how you're hiring, what kind of people you're bringing in, what policies you need to look at and change, et cetera. So the people initiatives is extremely important when you're putting your strategic plan together.

MK:Awesome. Thank you. So, whoever answered the last one, all of the above, would be correct. All right, so let's move onto the next one. Initiatives and projects. We already started talking about it, now that you have your goals and you've started identifying them, you now need to take that information and really put it into an initiative or a project that people can really get behind.

So, how do these projects fit into the major goals of the organization is going to be very critical to answer, and what activities have higher or equal priority? So after you've put your goals together, you are now going to have to prioritize them and put them in an order that is going to be equal or the priority of what the organization wants to accomplish.

You will use the same SMART format when you're cascading down the overall goals of the organization to the department and then to the individuals who are working within those departments. So you want to make sure, again, you're using the SMART model, it should be linked to the company's initiatives and goals, and the goals should be given as an expectation by the manager. And the manager, this is where they need to learn some skillsets on how to set an expectation, monitor those actions, and then give feedback for praising those who are doing a good job in hitting their goals or working towards their goals, or giving feedback for improvement, coaching is the key here, to help them get back on track to working to their goals. So very important when you're working on your individual goals.

The next piece here is the action plan. It's going to be very critical. Once you start putting together the goals and the objectives and initiatives of what you need to work on, who's leading those projects? What are the next steps? So you really want to capture who owns this goal? Or who owns this action or initiative? And then specifically spell out, what is the action?

And then the last one is, by when? When do you want to accomplish this? It's going back to that, how are we going to measure ourselves to make sure we're doing what we need to be doing? So it's very important to have it by when?

MK:Excellent. Those who did all of the above, you're absolutely correct. Great. So, the next piece here is what I call a scorecard. And it would be wonderful if you had an electronic scorecard, but even if you have something like this where you have the name of the goal that you're working, the description and measure, how you're going to measure yourselves, what is the meat behind that goal? And then what you're going to do is you're going to score yourself. And again, you can change the zero to five to A, B, C, D, E, F, or it could be the zero to five. But whatever you use, you want to make sure everybody understands the grading of it and that there's comments.

And I do recommend that this scorecard should be reviewed at least, at least four times a year, each quarter, when you're working your goals to make sure that you are on track and that you have some type of grade or number that you're giving yourselves to hold yourself accountable. Also, this could help you with the measure of how you're doing towards that goal.

So this is just an example of a scorecard. There are many different types that you can use. If you have something electronic that's on a dashboard that people can see in real time based on inputting information into your systems that you have, the technology that you use, is a wonderful way for everybody to see how things are going throughout the year.

MK:Excellent. 100% accurate. Love it.

Okay. So, we already talked about how to set an expectation. The next thing after you now have your strategic plan in place, you really have your goals set, you really have your expectations of how you're going to measure yourselves, now it's time to develop that performance feedback tool.

So all I really want you to understand here is, by having some type of performance tool, in order to give feedback to the individuals and departments to make sure that everybody is working towards their goals and that you are letting them know that you are measuring and you want to give them feedback on how they're doing is really going to make this impactful.

So, developing a performance tool back, excuse me, performance feedback tool, here are some tips. When you're giving feedback to employees, maintain and enhance their self-esteem, listen and respond with empathy, as a leader, share your thoughts and feelings and rationale of how things are going, and if the employee feels that there's a lot of weight on their shoulders, provide support but do not remove the responsibility or accountability away from them or that is going to slow down or hamper you reaching your goals as an organization.

Every person, every position has an impact in your organization. And providing the support without removing the accountability and responsibility lets everyone know everybody has to be rowing in the same direction and rowing to make sure you're moving forward.

So when you're developing a performance feedback tool, after you give feedback, I always say it's really critical, this is not a negative, but you want to develop an individual developmental plan. We call it an IDP, it's to help employee know their developmental areas and action steps for improvements for each of the goals.

So when you're giving performance feedback and those who are not hitting the mark, again showing support could be helping, working with your employees to develop areas that they can improve on. It's almost like doing a SWOT analysis for an individual. What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses? What are their opportunities? And then developing an individual developmental plan so they could work on their areas of improvement, their weaknesses in order to help them move along with the goals, individually, personally, and for the organization.

So, this slide right here is what I call developing that communication plan. Now that we have our goals, now that we have how we're going to measure, what kind of feedback, it's not time to start cascading this plan out to the rest of the organization. Where I see strategic plans fail is when leadership puts these together, but never truly rolls it out to the organization and communicates it. So you really want to develop that internal communication for employees, as well as educating your customers and vendors, some of your areas, specifically on your mission, vision, and values.

So you really want to make sure that you're having a consistent message to all. And the way you do this, is you want to look at, what is the audience that you need to capture? What is the date? When should you be communicating this message out? What is the message or what tool are you going to use? And then, how will the message be communicated? Is it via email? It is through some signs within the organization. Is it having an all-hands or all-employee meeting? Is it having department meetings? Or individual one-on-one meetings? And then who is responsible for delivering that message? Very important.

So once you put your strategic plan together, this is what's going to make it alive, making sure you communicate it to all the right people, that they understand the message and the intent of what you're trying to drive.

MK:That's great. Thank you. Those who said yes, you're absolutely correct. So at this point, we've covered everything regarding the strategic road map. So at this point, Dianne, I'm going to pass it to you and see if there's any questions that are coming in from the audience?

DB:Okay. Don't forget there's a Q&A box if anybody has any questions for Matt on his presentation. I have a question for you, Matt. Because of COVID, most companies have been working remotely. Is it possible to do a strategic plan remotely? Is there a preference to do it remotely versus non-remotely?

MK:Yeah. Good question Dianne. First of all, I've done several strategic plans in 2020 and the beginning of 2021 and most of those that I worked on were virtual and they can be done. We use WebEx or Zoom when we're working with our clients, there's work that could be done ahead of time, before we actually have our working sessions via a video chat. This is where I have individual phone calls and video calls with all of the participants, so I can gather some of the information ahead of time and then I can synthesize the information and prepare it in that virtual setting.

We also have the capabilities of doing break out rooms or activities. I would not do a strategic plan, I would always have somebody working with me within the organization that could help capture notes or answer any questions or be available through the chat if there's any questions or comments. We also utilize the chat process when we're doing the virtual to do some communication that's going on. So it can be done. I mean, obviously I prefer to do it in person, but it was very successful for me doing it virtual.

DB:Great. All right. How about, how long does it typically take to prepare such a plan?

MK:Yeah. Another great question. It depends on the size of the organization and how many people are going to be involved in the process. There's a few steps that I do when I'm putting that strategic plan together with the organization. The first process is communicating to everybody that's going to participate. So I use a set of questions, a semi-structures interview process. So depending on the size of the people that are going to be involved, if there's 10 people or 15 people, that could be probably an hour interview with each individual, so that's about 15 hours' worth of work that's done to do the prep work.

The actual working session could be, again, if it's virtual, I like to do shorter meetings just because you'll get video fatigue of sitting in front of a screen all day long and not having a lot of what I call human interaction. So it takes about a day to day and a half to work a working session. So if it's going to be done virtually, we break them up into two hour clips to do this. If it's going to be in-person like at a retreat or at the company office or at a conference center, I usually like to say that it's probably eight to 12 hours worth of work so that's usually a day and a half.

And then there's always follow-up information once we put the PowerPoint together and the communication plan, there might be what we call train the trainer, train the executives to help them communicate out to the organization. So it could take anywhere between 20 to 30 hours depending on the size of the organization.

DB:Okay. Great. One final question, once you've developed a plan and you've let it sit for a while and it becomes stale, what's the best way to proceed? Should you update your plan or should you just throw it out and start over? How to proceed on that.

MK:Yeah. Great question. First of all, never throw anything away. That's just my humble opinion, because you can always take it out, look at it, and reconfigure. I will also say that those who went through a strategic plan before COVID, literally this is where we were getting the phone calls to help them pivot and do a new strategic plan because some of the goals that they put together obviously needed to change, specifically around operation efficiency, people, and all three areas because of the fact that COVID impacted business development, operation efficiency, right? We had to start working from home, so there were a lot of things that needed to change.

So I always say, depending on the environment, you absolutely want to revisit your strategic plan. Best practice is at least once a quarter when you have either a board meeting or a strategic leadership meeting, you should be looking at your strategic plan and your goals at least once a quarter to see how things are going or if you need to adjust or change. You should look a little more deeper at least every six months. And once a year, you should be looking at your goals so you can take whatever strategic goals you have that one, three, five long-term goals to really have yearly goals for the organization.

So if you have a strategic plan, you could really develop that. So really, once a quarter, at least twice a year and then once a year you do that deep dive to really take a look at your goals.

DB:Okay. So, that is about all we have time for today. I want to thank everyone for attending again and to remind you that we have part three in our webinar series on June 23rd and we look forward to seeing you there. Thank you everyone.

Transcribed by

What's on Your Mind?

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Dianne Batistoni

Dianne Batistoni is a Partner in the Insurance Industry Practice, and leads the Insurance Regulatory Practice,with more than 20 years of professional accounting experience. She has extensive property and casualty insurance, captive and examination experience.

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