It’s a puzzle.
Employers are well aware that people are a key differentiator between one organization and the next. Too often, however, when you take a look at what those employers are doing to develop and retain their key talent, there’s nothing to see.
Unfortunately, many employers seem to believe a dedicated, expert HR professional is an aspirational “nice to have” rather than an essential “must have.” After all, organizational leaders possess industry and product knowledge, and that “people stuff” is just fluffy common sense! Why pay someone to tell you what you already know?
The Purpose of HR Strategy
Turnover is costly. From recruitment costs, training costs and drops in member service levels and team morale, losing valuable, knowledgeable staff members has lasting effects that put a strain on operations.
Turnover has long been viewed as a key indicator of effective people policies; so clearly, more efficient hiring and training processes are in order.
Lower turnover isn’t the only benefit of good HR strategy, however.
Think about people strategy as you would any other type of business strategy—a way to get from here to there.
Just like solid financial planning is less about avoiding financial ruin and more about creating the financial resources needed to achieve a vision, a solid HR strategy is an essential step in the journey toward a thriving, healthy business that looks and acts like you want it to.
It’s Not Just for the Big Guys
“HR strategy” may sound like insider jargon, but it’s not. Simply put, your human resources strategy is your people plan.
Managing people (that is, moving them in the direction you want them to go so they’ll perform as desired), isn’t something that happens by accident. Your staff comprises unique individuals with varying motivations, wants, and needs. Sure, there are commonalities, but one-size management does not fit all.
So whether you have five employees or 5000, you need a people plan.
Getting Your People Plan in Place: The Basics
So, what about it? Is good management just common sense?
According to Gallup’s 2015 “State of the American Manager” report, the answer to that question is “heck no.”
While nearly every aspect of a workplace is shaped by the quality of its leadership, Gallup found that only 1 in 10 managers have the natural ability to succeed in the job. What’s more, companies choose the wrong person to manage 82 percent of the time.
But there’s good news. Those who do possess some “functioning” talent (2 in 10) to manage benefit greatly by development opportunities, as do the organizations they serve and the people they direct.
And that brings us to the steps for getting your people plan in place:
Step #1—Face facts. Managing is hard, and most of us don’t have the natural ability to do it well. We need expert help, and HR professionals are the people experts. Hire one.
Step #2—Work with your HR expert to identify gaps in your talent acquisition, development, and retention processes. Research trends, talk with others in your industry, and poll your staff and customers. What processes need attention?
Step #3—Work with HR to develop a strategy to fill those gaps. How are you bringing new talent into the organization? Where are you advertising and what are your minimum requirements? Are you doing any prescreening or behavior assessments? Is your compensation within market? Do employees have regular opportunities for coaching and mentoring? Is anyone in the branch taking a personal interest in their professional development?
Step #4—Get buy in. Let your staff know where you’re headed, what needs to be done to get there and by whom, and how you’ll reward them for helping you achieve your goals. While you’re at it, keep those doors of communication open. People strategy should be ongoing and change as the business and your business objectives change.
Step #5—Celebrate successes. Don’t take your employees’ efforts for granted. Thank them for their hard work.
Step #6—Repeat Steps #1 through #5 as necessary.
What’s your people plan? If you don’t know, it’s time to find out.