What is team planning? (Definition and advantages)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 20 October 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A team plan supports companies and organisations in reaching their strategic objectives and goals for growth. Regardless of the industry you work in, creating a team plan can help you build a more productive team that communicates and works together more efficiently. Learning how to develop a team plan can enable you to maximise staff performance and potentially increase your team's productivity. In this article, we define team planning, describe the benefits of having a team plan and explain how to create one.

What is team planning?

Team planning is the process of developing strategic and operational plans for your team and aligning the team's work with the business's goals. A team plan identifies the team's purpose and strategic objectives and provides the team with guidance regarding its future direction. It also outlines how the team can achieve success by breaking down their overall strategic objectives into specific goals and tasks. The exact format can vary according to the team's size and nature but a team plan usually includes a team vision, key performance indicators (KPIs), goals and strategies.

Related: What are the main responsibilities of a team leader?

Why is it a good idea to create a team plan?

An effective team plan can be the difference between your team hoping to reach their goals and achieving them. Creating a team plan provides a focus for your team and ensures that their activities align with the organisation's strategic objectives. It provides guidelines that can help the team achieve its goals more efficiently and support each member to fulfil their potential. A team plan can also help you to identify any issues or areas requiring development within your team and understand the causes of these, so you can work on resolving them and improving your team's productivity and efficiency.

Related: The best team-building theories with implementation tips

What are the benefits of team planning?

There are several benefits to planning for your team, its members and the organisation, including:

Supporting business growth

A team plan helps to align the team's work with the business strategy to ensure your team contributes to business success and growth. Successful planning helps your team to meet deadlines consistently while maintaining high-quality standards. This can improve the company's reputation and status with clients or within your industry.

Developing teams

A team plan recognises individual team members' strengths and helps identify areas for development. In a large team, it's likely that the members possess a diverse range of skills and specialities. Recognising their competencies helps you to assign tasks that suit each member's knowledge and ability, allowing them to perform at their best, which benefits both the company and the employee. It can also help you to identify areas for skills development. Working on these can help to ensure your team has the ability to reach its present goals and perform well in the future.

Related: 10 important high performing team characteristics to know

Identifying issues

A plan can help you to identify issues that may hinder your team's progress, such as a resource shortage. Recognising potential issues in advance allows you to take action to prevent or minimise them. It gives you something to show senior management to request more resources and explain your reasoning more comprehensively.

Related: 10 steps for managing a virtual team: the complete guide

Improving employee engagement

Setting a vision and expectations with a team plan can help to improve employee engagement. When your team has a goal to work towards, it can increase their motivation level so they can better overcome challenges and achieve their objectives. Setting a plan and communicating objectives in advance also helps your team organise their daily activities.

Related: Discover how to support your team members in the workplace

Setting more realistic goals

A team plan helps you to set realistic goals for your team, which can support them to achieve success. Giving employees a manageable workload helps them to stay relaxed, so they're more likely to feel passionate about their work. When staff know they're meeting expectations, they're more likely to feel satisfied and maintain high-performance levels, contributing value to the company.

Related: Team members vs employees: what are the differences?

How to create a team plan

When creating a team plan, it's important to ensure that it covers all the key aspects so it's effective. Here are the steps you can take to create an effective plan for your team:

1. Establish a team vision statement

The first step is to establish a vision statement for your team. This short sentence articulates where you want the team to be in the future, which inspires the team members to work together and connect. When writing your vision statement, include your team members and consider the company's mission to make sure it reflects your team's and the organisation's values. To help you write your statement, you can ask yourself questions such as:

  • What does your team love to do?

  • What motivates the team?

  • How do they interact with others in the organisation?

Related: Powerful vision statement examples to inspire you

2. Outline the team's goals and objectives

The next step is to outline your team's goals and objectives. You can talk to senior management to better understand the company's business strategy to ensure alignment between your team and the business. You may also refer to the sections of the organisational strategy that your team is supporting. This helps ensure your team makes an effective contribution to business growth.

A team goal refers to an outcome you're hoping to achieve. Objectives are the actions you're going to take to accomplish this. Include your team members in this process, as they can provide helpful input regarding how long a task may take to complete, which kind of process is suitable for them and how they prefer to communicate with other team members.

Related: What is the difference between goals and objectives?

3. Set a time frame for achieving goals

Setting a time frame for your team to achieve its goals is important to an effective team plan. This may be one month, five months or the entire year. A team plan typically covers the next six to 12 months. With a plan longer than 12 months, you risk the organisation's priorities changing and your plan becoming out-of-date. It's beneficial to speak to your team members during this stage to help you set more accurate time frames for each task.

4. Prioritise your objectives

When creating a plan for your team, you may find that you have more work than your team can achieve during the set time frame. If this occurs, it's essential that you prioritise your team objectives rather than giving your team more work than they're likely to complete. You can prioritise your team's goals and objectives based on those that are most significant for reaching the overall company goals. This helps your team to manage their time so they can focus on achieving the most important objectives first.

5. Define the KPIs

Next, you can define the KPIs. A KPI is a value you can use to measure success to help you understand how effectively your team is achieving its objectives. Measuring your progress using KPIs can help you to monitor and adjust your team objectives when required.

Related: How to create and utilise different types of SMART KPI

6. Clarify your expectations

Clarifying your expectations for the team is another key element to include in your team plan. This refers to what you expect to achieve based on your current knowledge. You can refer back to your expectations and compare them with the team outcomes to assess team progress and identify potential improvement areas.

Related: Team meeting strategies (Plus how to organise team meetings)

7. Record your observations and review team progress

As your team begins working towards its goals, you can record your observations and note anything that improves or inhibits your team's performance. It's also important to regularly review your team's progress to ensure you're likely to achieve your goals. Aim to check your team plan quarterly. You may choose to schedule team plan review meetings at regular intervals, such as every week or every month. This helps you stay in regular contact with your team, make any necessary adjustments to your team plan and avoid setting unrealistic goals.

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