Peer Advisory Boards – Do They Work?

As mentioned in an earlier blog, the largest advantage of a peer advisory board is getting completely unbiased opinions from your business peers who act as a sounding board for your business concerns. Providing real life experience, your peers help you step back and think, are available to bounce ideas off of and keep your business on track.

Do they work? When many business owners think of a peer advisory group, they are a little skeptical as to whether or not they really work. All we have to do is look to the thousands of successful programs like Weight Watchers, or any 12-step program for the answer. The truth is they work because we not only crave the communal sharing and camaraderie, but we gain huge benefits from sharing mutual understanding and insights.

Sometimes entrepreneurs and small to mid-sized business owners feel they are “alone at the top” and find that meeting regularly with a peer advisory board, facilitated by their board’s facilitator, not only helps them to gain insights they otherwise wouldn’t have, but makes them more accountable and keeps them on track to meet their business goals.

Even if a business is large enough to have its own board of directors, many peer advisory boards can act as a sounding board where someone could present issues to a collection of business professionals and bright individuals for feedback before taking their concerns to a company’s board of directors.

Although there are many types of boards, a peer advisory board is something quite special because it allows business owners to unite and share common experiences.  For example, all businesses have personnel, operations, finance, and marketing concerns. If one member on the board has had a recent personnel issue, they can share their experience as to how they handled it, discuss what types of infrastructure needs to be in place and even where they posted a job.

Staff is not going to challenge a business owner, and owners need to have their ideas and decisions questioned, a peer advisory board will challenge you to consider new approaches to tackle a problem that they too have experienced.

Do you feel you could benefit from a peer advisory board? If so, in what way do you think you could benefit? I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.

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Strategic Planning Sessions – a Manager’s Perspective

strategic planning imageMid-sized business owners are tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that their vision, mission and goals are understood and executed throughout the company.  However, what often happens is that some employees, while clear about what these are, do not know how their specific job helps to support them. Unfortunately, there is a possibility that most will remain unaware of the existence of the vision, mission and goals.

Therein lies the problem many mid-sized companies face, which is communication and support for the overall business strategy. The key to conveying these fundamentals is insuring your key management understands these so they are equipped to relay this message to their staff.

In my role as a business advisor, I am often called on to facilitate strategic planning sessions with senior management teams.  I’d like to share with you an interview with one of the marketing managers who participated in a recent strategic planning session.

Q: Before the session, were you clear about what your role was within the organization?

A: No. It made my daily duties innocuous and frustrating because I did not have a clear understanding of what I was supposed to be doing. Being part of a smaller business often requires employees to wear many different hats and sometimes that can blur the lines of responsibility and accountability.

Q: How were you feeling about the company and your role before the meeting?

A: I felt my skills were not being best used in helping to move the company forward. There was no clear goal in sight or a clear idea of who we are. I became increasingly frustrated and unsure about what I should be spending my energy on.

Q: What were you hoping to get out of this meeting?

A: I was hoping to gain a clear sense of the identity of the company, roles of people in company, and vision of where the company will be next year, two years and beyond.

Q: How do you feel this session has helped you in your role?

A: Projects and initiatives are more defined in terms of relating back to the company’s identity. There is now an accountability structure in place so projects don’t fall by the wayside.

Q: Was the session valuable?

A: 150% yes!  Every business needs to understand who it is, where it has been, where it is now, and where it is going. Without this direction, you are floating on the ocean without a compass.  For me, it has brought clarity, defined goals and a structure to help measure success and shortcomings.  It has created cohesiveness and has tied everything together to reach a common goal.

Strategic planning sessions get the whole organization pointed in the same direction and can catapult your results to even higher levels of success!

Do you feel your organization could benefit from a strategic planning session? If so, in what way do you think you could benefit from this? I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.