Annual business planning meetings are the perfect time to establish a clear vision for your company, align departments, set goals for the year ahead, and refine company culture. But let’s face it; they can also be a daunting task.

You want to ensure you maximize your strategic planning time, nail down key action points, and agree on your direction as a dental company. This can be challenging – especially in larger dental organizations.

To help set your next annual planning meeting up for success, I wanted to focus on one key thing I do with my own teams that really helps to bring everyone together, build trust, and (most importantly) extract better ideas.

It’s called a “Visionary Love Letter”

A visionary love letter is something I started writing for the two-day strategic planning sessions I’d have with my teams every year.

Why? Because I found that we’d spend so much time developing our business strategy for the year ahead that I wouldn’t have much time to share “things from the heart.”

So, I decided to write a visionary love letter that existed to celebrate past achievements and give kudos where kudos were due in our annual business planning meeting.

Writing a love letter to your team is probably something you never thought you’d do. I mean, the last time you wrote a “love letter” was when you were a five-year-old with an innocent crush.

But what if I told you that writing a visionary love letter to your team for your next annual planning meeting might just be the best thing you do for your dental organization all year? Learn how to write one below.

How to write a Visionary Love Letter for your next annual planning meeting

Your visionary love letter is your chance to celebrate your team, acknowledge accomplishments, and give each individual a little pep in their step for the year ahead.

So don’t hold back! Here are the 3 main components I recommend you have in your visionary love letter to maximize the effectiveness of your annual planning meeting.

#1 Give specific compliments

Make sure what you write about your team is clear, truthful, specific, and positive.

Maybe you can talk about the things that aren’t really measurable, like “I love that our culture has become a lot more fun in the past year” or “I feel like we’re attracting better leads, thanks to our marketing efforts last year.”

Or, instead of saying something like, “Jim, you’re a great guy, and that work on the O’Donnell account was really something!” you might say something like, “Jim, I love working with you because you’re so supportive towards our junior teams and weren’t afraid to take risks with the O’Donnell account – which really paid off.”

See the difference? Give it a try!

#2 Show empathy for successions

Showing empathy, support, and gratitude all come from a place of (professional) love!

A crucial part of your visionary love letter should be to thank team members who are moving into new roles for their fantastic work last year and acknowledge the impact they made in that role.

It’s also an excellent opportunity to let them know you fully support their transition and are there to help them move things around to succeed in their new role.

For example, you might say, “I know our marketing department has to grow, and that means that there are things you need to take off your plate and delegate as marketing director to someone else – I want you to know I support that. What might those things be?”

#3 Acknowledge past failures

As a visionary and CEO of a company, I had a prediction or belief every year that turned out to be wrong.

Maybe the sales initiative I thought would be the most effective in moving our profit margins wasn’t actually very effective. Or perhaps the thing I thought would be the most important to get done first wasn’t really a big deal in the end.

You see, 99% of the time, we CEOs and visionaries don’t acknowledge our failures. But trust me, your teams do. They know you were wrong about certain things and that XYZ didn’t turn out how you wanted to.

And when you don’t acknowledge your past failures, it makes your team afraid to fail themselves and can even diminish their trust in you.

If you want a team that pushes the envelope and isn’t afraid to try new things, then you need to be willing to accept that some things won’t work out, and that’s okay. Just don’t be afraid
to admit that.

How the Visionary Love Letter benefits strategic planning

The visionary love letter is your secret weapon for creating better annual business strategies. Here’s why.

Inspires your team

By celebrating your team’s individual and collective accomplishments, you will increase confidence, improve engagement, and inspire your team to keep reaching further.

Giving each team member a compliment boost might be just what they need to grow their confidence and develop bigger, better ideas.

Builds stronger trust

Building trust between CEOs and team members leads to more open and honest communication during annual planning meetings and more effective strategic planning.

By showing your team members that you acknowledge their challenges and sharing your “visionary guilt” for previous failures, you can build a deeper trust than ever before.

Creates diamonds

When you admit failure at annual business planning meetings, your teams will begin to push against some of your ideas responsibly. And you know what happens when people put pressure on ideas? We create diamonds.

This can look like your team saying, “You’re really passionate about this idea, and we don’t necessarily disagree. But do we have room to bring up some things that might be errors in judgment on this?”

As CEOs and visionaries, we tend to ram ideas through our teams, wanting them actioned straight away. But what if you opened the floor up to other people’s opinions?

In my own experience, teams challenging my ideas always led to positive outcomes at our strategy meetings.

Need help leading a successful annual planning meeting?

Creating business strategies, inspiring teams, and developing a cohesive vision can be overwhelming.

So I hope today you’ve enjoyed learning my one simple tool to facilitate more effective strategy meetings going forward, and can’t wait to start writing your visionary love letter!

I know you’ll fall in love (sorry, I couldn’t help it!) with the positive changes it brings to your dental company.

If you want expert guidance on running effective annual planning meetings, making an already awesome culture even better, and engaging your employees like never before; speak to me.

I’m Dr. Eric J Roman, your heart-centered mentor inspiring change and manifesting impact to help you create a better future for your dental practice and the dental industry at large.

Ready for stronger teams, happier patients, and surging growth?

Let’s talk.