Do you have a strong leadership team and staff who are happy, engaged and working to the best of their ability? Are your people in jobs that suit their strengths, and is everyone in the business committed to seeing it succeed?
Whether you are a well-established family business, a growing start-up, a mid-tier business with a corporate structure, or a combination of these, it is likely that you have a plan for the future. That could be a fully formed company strategy with associated business plan, or simply a set of goals for the following year.
It’s natural to look first at the finances, sales and marketing, but something that every business owner should consider is whether you have the right staff with the right skills to create and deliver against the opportunities ahead – not only in the next 6-12 months, but the next three to five years.
There is a strong link between good people management and revenue. Well-managed people make a business more productive, helping it to grow and generate more profit.
The dangers of not having a people plan
The truth is that most companies don’t have a strategic people plan, they simply carry out HR processes as and when needed. But this is missing the bigger picture: it is reactive not proactive.
If the business is not led positively from the top and your aims are not effectively communicated, it can inhibit business performance and exasperate your staff. Confusing messages and a lack of training can prevent employees from performing to the best of their ability, making them more likely to leave, therefore causing disruption to the business. If they stay, you might find a toxic culture developing. Recruit the wrong people and you might end up with more terrorists than star performers.
Start with the business objectives
People planning needs to start with the business strategy. When a company has a clear strategic direction it knows where it is going and the senior team has a framework to allow them to make decisions. So it’s important to establish what your vision for the business is and what are you trying to achieve. Consider the following:
• Why do you exist as a business? What problems do you solve?
• Does your original mission still resonate, or does it need to change?
• Are you looking for increased revenue or profits, enhanced productivity, greater market share, or even entry into a new market?
• Are you looking to develop new products?
• Are you looking to be a part of the future of the business or are you planning to exit?
• When do you plan for all of this to happen?
• How will you measure success?
Sometimes just getting your senior team to agree on these answers is a big challenge. Once the vision is agreed, your strategic plan has milestones, and the annual business plan has been prepared, you can now focus whether you have the right people in place to deliver that strategy.
Our people plan
We created the PP Wheel TM to provide a framework for evaluating where you are now, and what changes you need to make for your staff to be fit for growth. Your business strategy is the hub of the wheel, driving the business forward, with the following five elements:
A strong leadership team is essential to drive continued growth and ensure the business achieves its goals. The leadership team shape and drive the vision of the business, so it’s important to ask yourselves:
• Are you all on the same page and aligned to the business strategy?
If you are all committed to seeing it happen and understand how you can lead your team towards this, you can then set objectives or actions to push the business forward.
• Have you scaled the big picture vision into a series of smaller steps, ones that are achievable, practical and real?
Clear objectives help managers to feel like they are in control and employees feel they are achieving.
• Are you communicating the steps to all staff and is there an established feedback loop?
When people know what success looks like, they can work towards it. When they are left in the dark, they can only make decisions based on what they can see.
• Do you have the skills you need to achieve the business objectives?
If not, you will need to buy or train those skills in to the business.
Culture and values
If your vision is where you are going, your culture is how you get there. To develop a high performing culture, it is worth considering:
• What is important to us? What do we value?
Our values come to life in our behaviours, and should inform why we promote certain people over others. We can tell what we value from what we see and hear around the office: it isn’t just words on a poster on the wall.
• Do we have a strong culture, one to nurture and be proud of?
Culture can be impacted and formed by the work that we do. If we want a strong culture to support the business as it grows, we need to spend time and energy developing it, and then we need to live it.
• Do we have shared core values?
The acid test is whether your values are modelled by the senior management team, or whether they just apply to ‘everyone else’.
• What is the energy and attitude like amongst the team?
Engagement positively impacts profit, and if your employees are committed to being part of your team, the business will have a completely different feel than if they are just there to pay the bills.
If your culture and values aren’t acknowledged or documented in any way by the management team they will be difficult to change or build on. But once you’ve established a way to bring your core values to life, you can use them to drive your hiring and performance processes. It will also help you measure whether people are going above and beyond to demonstrate those values.
If you need any help or advice on any of these areas please do drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org.