If you aspire to have the very best people driving your business forward, you will need an effective HR strategy. People Puzzles HR director Sharon Nash lists 10 key questions to consider, grouped under three themes: Direction, Focus and Clarity.
DIRECTION – Reaffirm the direction of travel for your business by asking these fundamental questions:
- Why does my business exist?
This question is an essential starting point to realign focus on why we are here in the first place and what our purpose is. Why do you do what you do? What makes your business successful?
- What are the unique things that we do that deliver competitive advantage for our clients?
Before you go off and start thinking about, say, new products, have a look at your core business and what you’re good at. Who are you doing this for and what do they get out of it? Which takes us to the next question…
- How do our investors, shareholders and employees measure that value?
What does success look like? How do you know that you have a viable business? Are you focused solely on revenue or do you have other ambitions for the business and the people that drive that revenue?
FOCUS – Identify where your business is headed and sense and respond to what is happening externally.
- What do you need to do exceptionally well this year?
What does your business need to do to be successful this year? Do you have the right margin on your products? Is your sales team sufficiently skilled to create a strong sales pipeline? Can we increase our productivity and profit? If you’re looking to develop new products, are you engaging with customers around how they use the product and are you nurturing enough people in your team to evolve it?
- What are the unique capabilities that drive your performance?
Once you’ve identified what you specifically need to do well, be it converting pitches into sales, think about what the next big thing is. Is it simply increasing revenue on one of your products, or focusing on whether you have the skills in place to deliver exceptional results. What does exceptional look like? Which brings us to…
- Do you have that capability now or do you need to grow it/bring it in?
Do you have the right amount of people to deliver the aims of your business and are they focused on doing the right things? Are you able to attract the best people to your business?
CLARITY – Your key enablers for delivering strong results
- Are you aligned as a leadership team on the vision for your business?
The leadership team shape and drive the vision of the business, so challenge yourselves – are you all on the same page? Does your mission still resonate, or does it need to change? Are you utilising your team’s individual strengths? In this instance, a strengths profiler can help to highlight what different leaders bring to the table and how you might work more effectively as a team, recognising your preferred styles of leadership.
- Do we have the right structure to get us to the next level?
If you are scaling your business, do you have the agility in your current structure to support that? Imagine you’re about to grow your staff by a third. Can it grow organically, or do you need to restructure?
- Is your employee proposition sufficiently robust to attract, nurture and retain the best talent in the market?
When a business is just starting up, people tend to give it their all. However, when it begins to mature, they might start asking for something back. So what’s in it for your employees? Are you nurturing people, so they feel committed and not on the lookout for another job? Are you recognising their achievements, rewarding them and giving them sufficient challenge and support so they can perform at their best?
- Does your culture and values enable and drive the right behaviours for success?
The final question to ask yourself covers two significant areas: culture and values.
Look at your working culture and ask if it will work for the business moving forward. For example, an ‘anything goes’ creative approach might have worked in the beginning, but does it now cause people to lose focus on the core aims of the business? If so, you might need to consider cultivating a slightly different culture.
Values drive behaviours in the business so it’s important to ensure that your team understands the meaning behind your values and the behaviours associated with them. For example, if one of your values is to ‘be curious’, what would outstanding behaviours look like? How could you measure that?
Once you’ve established a way to bring your core values to life, you can use them to drive your hiring, onboarding and performance processes. It will also help you measure whether people are going above and beyond to demonstrate those values.
The HR Director’s role in delivering a people strategy
An effective HR Director will bring challenge to the leadership agenda and enable broader thinking around developing a people strategy. He/she will bring an incisive and discerning voice to the decisions that leaders make, by questioning and probing to help leaders recognise their differences and clarify their aims. Leading this process successfully is what my clients value most when we are brought in to look at people strategy – bringing focus and clarity to accelerate the process.
All these questions are big questions about where your business is going and how you can be more successful. If you haven’t had a leadership away day recently to hammer this out (or ever), get in touch to book one in. It really will change your year.