A recent McKinsey report reveals a worrying disconnect between CEOs and HR leader’s overly buoyant beliefs around their talent and people development strategies compared to other leaders within their organisation. While 64% of both HR leaders and CEOs said their companies were high adopters of such strategies, only 42% of all other survey respondents agreed with the findings.

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The report suggests that leaders within an organisation are the biggest impediment to implanting successful talent strategies into an organisation by placing a lack of emphasis on their strategic importance. So how do we help organisations address these issues and ensure success in this crucial area?

The need to embed people strategy into your company culture

A closer look at the findings show that organisations are often subconsciously giving out a message that people strategy isn’t important to the business. When thinking about the strategy, the route to success and growth it is easy to assume that the individuals in the leadership team will take care of developing and managing their people as part of their role. In fact, it often takes a back seat to the operational goals and individual tasks (especially when individuals are focussed on getting the job done). One third of non-CEOs agreed with the statement that ‘Our leadership doesn’t value talent best people practice’ seemingly underlying the need for people strategies to not only be talked about but also ‘lived’ amongst all levels of leaders in the business.

Investing time now for the future

McKinsey’s own analysis highlighted ‘short-termism’ affecting talent strategy, talent development and recruitment. Because of this, businesses may wake up one morning and find there is a lack of diversity, or key skills within their organisation; or that their people are demotivated and dis-engaged.  In the long term this will impact both operational efficiency and profitability.  It is only with a longer-term commitment to investing in talent, will organisations be able to grow and develop with sustained success. Leaders need to accept that they need to listen to, and involve their people at all levels; even if what they hear surprises them.

Making People Strategy come alive

People strategy needs to be a thread that runs through the entire business, not just something that appears on strap lines and mission statements. Here’s our top tips for making your people strategy come alive:

  • Align your people and talent strategies with your business strategy, ensuring clear, visible linkages so that your people can see why it matters and how it makes a difference
  • Embed the people strategy into clear goals of all leaders and managers, across the organisation
  • Make sure there is a continuous, cognitive drive to implement great talent development and management approaches through communications, your performance management approaches and even in day to day meetings
  • Reward and recognise people for doing the right things in the right way, which align to your people strategy. Celebrate success openly
  • Invest in your people, not just for today, but for tomorrow
  • Involve and trust your people – to get the best out of them.

As the CBI and McKinsey report ‘Good Job’ highlights if companies moved up just one decile in people performance compared to their peers the resulting boost in labour productivity would be £110 billion. Surely a number worth thinking about?

Contact us to find out how we can help you align your people strategy to your Business strategy and activate the talent within your business to help you achieve your business goals.

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In the words of Benjamin Disraeli, “Change is inevitable. Change is constant.” Whether it’s new political leaders with new (and sometimes varying) agendas. Volatile and ever-changing global relationships directing our economy’s course. Or the need to be more agile than ever in an increasingly knowledge rich, digitally savvy world, there are many challenges ahead, some anticipated and some not, but today’s business leaders will need to navigate them, come what may.

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So how do leaders make sure they bring their people on the journey with them?

Communication, communication, communication

Listen, and then listen some more. Feedback from all levels is key, not only because leaders need to know how the change is going but also because they need to know how the change is feeling. Establishing feedback groups and loops across the company can help people feel involved and engaged. If they feel part of the change and have input into it (both strategically and in execution), they are more likely to invest in the change and work to make it happen. No path to change is ever straightforward and new challenges and questions will come up along the way, today’s business leaders need to make sure those opportunities aren’t missed. However, it isn’t just about listening, it is also about acting, adjusting and then listening again.

Be clear on the ‘big why’

This seems obvious and is something organisations will have at the core of their business strategy. The senior leadership team should know (and agree) why they want to make the change,  and what outcomes they are aiming for. It can be easy to forget that some people may not share that in-depth insight and may even have their own views on what and how, let alone why changes need to be made.

Build trust

Share the strategy and share the execution plan. Enable people to try things out and have their backs. Empower people by allowing them to take risks and feel that they have permission to make mistakes. Knowing that they’re being listened to and that they’re trusted is a reward in itself. Incentives don’t always need to be financial – a thank you goes a long way.

Invest in and reward individuals

There will be people who by their very nature embrace change whole heartedly, these people can be identified and recruited to act as change agents within the business with relative ease. However, different parts of the business (and the people within them) will experience the change in different ways.  It is important to acknowledge and recognise this, providing positive reinforcement of desired behaviours and addressing concerns early. It is also essential that any change proposal isn’t seen as a wholly top down initiative. Having a voice of peers who understand the grass roots can be a powerful tool.

Keep change in the spot light

After a while, the change project can feel like something that happens only when there is time outside of the day job. Updates and check-ins help keep the change project at the top of the agenda.  It allows people to reflect and ensures that they are reminded of what they are doing, and why they are doing it.

How often have we seen a big launch campaign that comes in with a bang and sells the ideas and concepts, outlining the plan, only to hear nothing more until new people, processes and goals are introduced? If a change programme is to be successful there must be continuous discussion of the big why, reminding people why they are going through the change and selling the benefits to them as individuals, and for the business as a whole.

Do you need a resource and talent strategy for your change programme? Then contact us…

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