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Make Your Business Strategy Succeed with the Right People

Young professionals in a bright, modern office

Why do so many organizations articulate a great business strategy but fail to execute it? At the same time, why do we see large numbers of organizations which have a fantastic culture and are great places to work, but don’t succeed commercially?

It is important that for business and HR leaders to have a roadmap of what they need to do differently in relation to strategy and people to win big.

While a great strategy based on a strong customer proposition is critical, to execute it effectively you need a differentiated people strategy and plan. It’s doing both at the same time that delivers in today’s hyper-competitive markets.

Success is found by balancing both business strategy and people management. The vast majority of businesses are too focused on one end of the continuum over the other, but long-term sustainable businesses adapt to market changes and disruption. They do this by being clear about their company purpose and have a culture which is people-centric, orientated around learning and great employee experience.

Businesses can no longer operate if their strategy is not communicated to their whole organization. The top-down command and control model, where only a small leadership elite are involved in the business strategy, just doesn’t work any more. Over 80% of business value is now derived from intangibles such as brands, relationships, design, copyrights, operating models and supply chains at the core of every intangible are people.

In a recent PwC survey of Global CEOs, their number one issue by far was difficulty sourcing talent and managing employee capability. This indicates that business leaders now recognise that commercial success comes from having talented people, who are working in an environment that is good for them, with a team of committed and capable colleagues and an understanding of why and how their contribution matters.

How do you develop a positive, inclusive culture and deliver a great employee experience in order to find this commercial success?

Developing a Strategy Map which shows the causation between great people management, great customer delivery and superior business results is a good tool to start this process. At the same time, leaders should clearly articulate the organization’s purpose; why it exists and its unique customer offering. These two steps can then be used as the building blocks of engagement, as your people know what they should be doing to create success and, importantly, why they are doing it.

Creating a great employee experience and explaining the role great people managers play in this and how this needs to be measured on a regular basis and at the unit or team level. This regular measurement of people enables your leaders to get a pulse check of how their people are doing, reflect on how well their people strategy is working. This test, prove, learn and modify model enables only people interventions that make a difference to be retained and built upon.

If you don’t get up-to-date people data your leaders are flying the business blind!

Transformation or large-scale change and the reimagining of the HR function to provide the strategic people to meet your business needs are also key elements of people strategy.

From personal experience of being the HRD for Royal Mail letters, we went from losing £1.5m a day to making £450m profit four years later prior to privatisation. We did this by empowering our line managers and taking our people on a journey as to why and how we needed to be different to survive. At the heart of this story is a belief that if you educate, listen, develop and help your people they can achieve remarkable change and results.

The HR profession needs to radically refocus its work away from the 3 Ps of Policy, Processes and Procedures, where we believe we’re doing a good job if we deploy best practice to one where we craft differentiated people strategies totally focused on attracting, growing, motivating and retaining better talent than our competitors.

I hope you join me and thousands of other leaders who recognise the only way to compete and win is by focusing on utilising the ingenuity and capabilities of your People.