When faced with the task of putting together a plan for your company — which often is as simple as creating a budget — it can be a difficult thing to do, particularly if you are the company owner. There are so many things to consider when coming up with a sales volume target for the year and how the company will be able to support that goal. How can you proceed if you have no one to get input from?

Involve your employees in the process. On a certain level it seems obvious that this is the way to proceed. But wouldn’t that mean you were being too open with your staff? That they would be asking questions about overhead numbers that you feel are not their concern?

Set the ground rules carefully. Here are some to consider:

Look for input to consider, not direction. The difference is critical. Once your folks understand that they are being given your respect by virtue of you asking for the opinions and suggestions their level of buy-in regarding what you decide is much higher than it otherwise would be. Your employees don’t want the responsibility of giving direction; they value being asked for input.

Define what you are looking for. Regarding sales volume, you might share with employees the number and sizes of the different types of jobs the company did in the previous year. Then all of you can have a frank discussion about what realistic sales goals for the coming year might be. Discuss how marketing dollars are being spent. What are your employees’ opinions about the effectiveness of the different tactics? Share with them lead-to-sales data so they can see what tactics created leads and which ones did not.

Agree to carefully consider your employees’ input and get back to them by a certain date to let them know what your plan is. You are the one who decides what will and what will not be done. But when you report back with your plan, be sure to ask questions of your team about what they think of it. Doing so will help them own it.

Don’t make it hard, make it fun. Engage your employees as team members throughout this process. The payoff to you is a little less stress and a more capable company! —Paul Winans, a veteran remodeler, now works as a facilitator for Remodelers Advantage, and as a consultant to remodeling business owners. Contact him at paul@remodelersadvantage.com.