Diane Coolican shares her views on what she believes will be the top people challenges in 2015
Coming out of the recession has been the key driver for businesses over the past few years. Though many are now seeing an upturn in success and profitability, the biggest challenge going into 2015 is a company’s ability to innovate and stay ahead of the game.
If businesses can respond quickly to opportunities in the market place, anticipate competitor activity and pre-empt it, they can build on their previous successes. Leaders should encourage employees to develop new and exciting offers, in order to build on existing product and service differentiators.
Investing in talent
People will be invaluable in implementing this throughout the year and businesses need to ensure they attract, retain and continue to develop key talent. The recruitment market is once again showing increased activity. Perceptions relating to the economy are more optimistic and employees who were reluctant to consider a move now feel more confident to do so. To assume good people will always stay is dangerous. Retaining talent will become a challenge, especially when it comes to those with experience in leadership roles.
People need to feel valued and appreciated or they are liable to be poached by others who recognise their potential. Organisations who haven’t invested in employee development in the last five years will be looking to attract talent from their competitors and may be willing to pay above market rates. Businesses can reduce the risk of losing employees by recognising talent and potential through a structured development plan and a robust succession plan.
The biggest management challenge in 2015 will be to achieve a balance between delivering operationally and thinking strategically. Managers are more often than not measured against something tangible; therefore, the skills to achieve these tangible results need to be developed.
Organisations continue to have a turbulent time, even though in theory we are out of recession. The solution to this turbulence is engaging and energising teams during yet more change. Teams may expect more stability but the reality may be more change, and market place and customer expectations may also mean that change needs to happen faster. Another reality is that employees may feel that they are not yet back to pre-recession pay and conditions, yet even more is expected and required of them.
Getting the day job done is no longer enough. Managers need to be thinking faster and more creatively, identifying how and what can be different and exceeding customers’ ever increasing expectations.
There will also be a continued drive for self-development. In recent years, employees have probably valued security over risk, so may not have wanted to push themselves and move into a new position or role. 2015 will see people adopt more of a ‘just got for it’ attitude.
The realities in practice
Where 2014 focused on ‘back to basics’, getting things right first time and embedding best practice, 2015 needs to take the basics to a higher level, exceed expectations and predict and anticipate customer needs.
Companies will need to create a future proof people development strategy, look at succession planning and develop the skills to lead and manage people through change. Engaging the younger workforce will be critical, through adapting management styles, creating wellbeing for all employees and career planning.
L&D specialists need to take a more practical approach to how they develop people and place less emphasis on the theoretical. There is a growing need to develop strategic leaders who can see things differently by:
- Enabling managers and leaders to develop, coach and empower their people.
- Providing the skills and space to think differently.
- Encouraging team thinking rather than individual thinking.
- Providing tailored management and leadership development programmes which have a practical bottom line impact.
Every generation that experiences a deep recession is changed by the experience. The work place has transformed and job security is always precarious. This often prompts individuals to focus on themselves and their long term values in the workplace; a long-term career seems more important than short-term success. Businesses that can harness this focus and build it into the company ethos will reap rewards.
Top 5 tips on how to prepare your L&D programme for 2015
- Make your people strategy your priority.
- Identify talent and create individual, bespoke solutions for the most valued individuals.
- Have an aspirational talent programme.
- Offer bespoke management and leadership development programmes which provide practical skills and a measurable bottom line impact and ROI.
- Develop a suite of ‘well-being’ masterclasses providing career and life skills for the 21st century.