8 Questions for Disability Support Leaders To Kickstart 2022 Strategic Planning

Leaders in the disability support industry could be forgiven for feeling a tad pessimistic about the year ahead. In fact the three key themes of the NDS State of the Disability Sector Report 2021 are “pessimism, frustration and distress.” Yikes. 

Yet, there was a lot worth celebrating in 2021. Yes, it was a challenging year and the disability sector is doing it tough. However, with that came an incredible wealth of learning opportunities as we were all forced to adapt to new ways of working. 85% of respondents in the NDS survey believed that their organisations were able to respond well to the challenges of the pandemic.

That’s a big deal. It means that the majority of organisations within the industry are better equipped to adapt and innovate than perhaps they give themselves credit for. 

As we look forward to 2022, now is the perfect time to take a look in the rearview mirror at the last twelve months. By reviewing what is working well and what is creating roadblocks during your annual review, you put your organisation in the best position to improve and drive further innovation in the future.

Before developing your 2022 strategic plan, invite your executive team to come together for a year in review, armed with their insights and perspective from the past twelve months. Ask everyone to consider the following 8 questions to set you up for success in the year ahead.

1. “What are our success stories from 2021?”

What do you want to celebrate from 2021? What impressed you the most when it was time for your teams to show resilience and adaptability in the face of restricted environments? It’s easy to think about personal success at an individual level, but what you want to examine in a year-in-review is what made these moments so great. Look deeper to determine the processes or behaviours that can be catalogued as best practice. 

You can’t clone people, but developing best practice processes and behaviours can help you develop a plan of what you wish to repeat and improve upon in 2022. 

2. “What are our areas for improvement in 2022?”

Mistakes and failures happen. Rather than shying away from them, it’s time to bring it out in the open to learn from them and avoid history repeating itself. 

You may identify gaps in your team’s skills or knowledge, but again, be sure to focus on processes and practices within your organisation, not people. This will avoid assigning blame and help your organisation focus on areas of the business that have room for improvement, as well as what simply didn’t work as well as you hoped. 

For example, if you tried offering virtual services for the first time in 2021 and the general consensus is that it could have been better, what was it that made it fall short? Were the systems too complicated? Do you need to invest more in training staff to use the technology to run them, or was it that customers didn’t easily embrace the technology you used? 

3. “Where did we invest most of our time and resources in 2021?”

This question will help you determine inefficiencies. Examine how time and resources were spent in 2021 and what return (outcome) your organisation received on this investment. This doesn’t have to just be in dollars and cents — did something produce great results but take an inordinate amount of effort or expense to achieve? Can anything be automated or outsourced to improve efficiencies? By looking at your investments in time and resources you can look at priorities for improvement in the new year. 

If you’re looking for answers on how to improve efficiencies in 2022, check out this article detailing 5 Important Workflows That Support Organisations Can Automate.

4. “Do we have the right tools to keep pace with the industry?”

The NDIS can feel like a whirlwind of policy changes. Just when you think you’re on top of everything, it changes. When developing your 2021 annual business review, consider how well your technology has kept pace with these changes and supported your organisation’s workflows. 

  • Is your technology purpose-built to support your organisation or is it a broad-stroke solution designed for less complex industries? 
  • Are you still scrambling to meet new requirements introduced through the year?
  • What technology could you use to minimise disruption in 2022? 

If your organisation feels like it’s falling behind, you’re not alone. Last year’s NDS Report found that 95% of disability support organisations were actively looking at increasing their productivity in 2021 to get ahead. Yet for many organisations, 2021 was simply spent playing catch up. 

To see how other support organisations have begun the journey of digital transformation to improve productivity and growth opportunities, download the free Digital Transformation Playbook: 3 Steps to Future-Proof Your NDIS Organisation.

5. “Are our employees happy enough to stay in 2022?”

While the disability services industry is brimming with hard-working, dedicated individuals — there simply isn’t enough of them to go around. So how do you know if your employees felt happy and supported through 2021? It’s simple: you ask them! 

When we surveyed frontline support workers, we discovered that as many as 35% of frontline staff don’t feel supported by their employers. If you don’t regularly check-in and invite feedback from your team members, it’s hard to know if this sentiment applies to your organisation. 

Here are some questions for your leadership team to consider:

  • When was the last time we ran an employee satisfaction survey?
  • How regularly did managers check in with their team members in 2021? 
  • What can we do in 2022 to action the feedback we received in 2021?

If you don’t have any employee feedback from 2021, now is the time to ask so that you have an opportunity to respond in the year ahead. How you listen (and show that you’re listening) as a leader has a significant impact on employee engagement and morale. When management teams and frontline staff feel confident in their leadership, they’re more likely to feel connected to the organisation and motivated to produce great work.

For more advice on how to create a strong internal culture that keeps staff engaged, download our free Support Workforce Guide: How to Find and Keep the Best NDIS Support Workers.

6. “What did we do to attract and support our ideal customer in 2021?”

Who is your ideal customer as an organisation, the people you can best support? After reconnecting with who your target audience is, it’s time to look at how well you really know your customers and market. Review the real results of who your customers were in 2021 and compare them with the market you have been targeting. Are they the same? Has anything shifted? 

This handy demand map from Boosting the Local Care Workforce can help you look at demand in the areas you provide services to. If you are not attracting your target customers, now is the time to look at where they are going to find services and what you can do to provide more support that aligns with what they are looking for.

If you are attracting a different audience than you expected, consider why and if it’s worth expanding support in other areas to grow your business. 

7. “What do our customers want in 2022?”

This question is less about demographics and more about what your existing customers want. Retention is just as important — if not more so — than attracting new business. 

Consider:

  • What did you provide in 2021 that people couldn’t get elsewhere? 
  • If you overheard a customer trying to describe your services to a friend, what would you want to hear them say? 

A key part of your strategy for 2022 should be to develop solutions and support that would match this description. If you’re not sure how your customers felt about your services and support in 2021, now is the perfect time to ask them through a survey or invitation for feedback.

8. “What did we do in 2021 to work toward our mission/vision?”

Working in the disability support organisation, dedication to the customer and community is everything. You exist to improve people’s lives every day. However, it’s not uncommon to lose sight of the foundations of your organisation, setting a mission and vision statement without establishing benchmarks and steps on how this vision can be best achieved. 

A yearly business review is a great time to remind yourself and your team about exactly why you do what you do and ensure that everyone is aligned internally to achieve maximum impact. 

Articulate your mission and vision statements and critically examine what steps you took in 2021 to work toward achieving them. How can you take this momentum and build on it in 2022? 

If you struggle to answer this question, your teams may be too focused on the daily grind and need to develop some long-term strategic goals to stay on track as an organisation. You will always be helping people, but every year is another opportunity to make your impact even greater than the last. 

Find out how GoodHuman can drive your productivity forward in 2022

After reviewing the past twelve months, it’s time to look at whether your organisation has the right tools and resources to execute your strategic plan in 2022. Watch a 4-minute demo to see how GoodHuman can help transform your organisation with automation or get started today with a free trial.

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