People strategy is business strategy, says Gary Webb.
Reading time: 4 minutes.
If your company claims to be a ‘people business’ or ‘driven by its people’, its growth should align with the growth and development of its staff.
Many businesses make claims like this, but fall short of the mark. Their people strategy doesn’t align with their business growth. Instead of investing in people, they pull in talent from outside the business to facilitate business growth.
Businesses that are truly people driven have a business strategy that relies on creating a culture of learning and loyalty to achieve results. Employees that work for such businesses feel a personal sense of achievement when the company takes its next big step. Whether that’s landing a big client or sealing the order of the century.
These sorts of businesses enjoy much higher staff retention and productivity because staff are happier and feel more valued. Synchronising your people strategy with your growth strategy means putting people at the heart of your business.
Putting people at the heart of your business
The heart of a people business is its culture. A strong company culture that is embodied by your employees is more powerful than any mission statement. But it takes people to make a people culture.
The key is to get people invested in their role and make them feel rewarded for pushing the envelope.
Listen to employees’ needs, acknowledge them, and act on their concerns. Lead by example and pass this mindset down to your senior managers. This is critical because if your leaders don’t buy into a people culture, your employees and stakeholders won’t follow suit.
It’s one thing to say you want a great culture, it’s quite another to shape people’s thoughts and beliefs around your vision. You have to get your employees excited, proud and appreciative of your business culture. Enlist them, empower them and encourage them.
Invest in training and staff benefits that empower your employees and arm them with the tools they need to do more. Then, encourage them to push further and be the drivers of business innovation. Let their insights and expertise steer the direction of your business.
Creating a growth environment
If you want your people to lead the way, you need to create an environment that is attractive to your employees and encourages them to strive for more. Depending on the needs of your staff and their role, the condition you need to create will vary.
Creatives want the freedom to express. Career-driven people want opportunities to prove themselves and climb the ladder. Analytical types want interesting problems to solve. Graduates want to learn, while older professionals might want responsibility and flexible working.
Find out what matters most to the people in your business and create incentives that satisfy those needs. The key is to get people invested in their role and make them feel rewarded for pushing the envelope.
Harnessing people growth to business success
When you have a company culture that encourages innovation, you can reap the benefits of a curious and committed team of people. But, synchronising your growth strategy and people strategy means coming at it from both sides.
It’s important that you have a clear idea of your business vision and communicate it effectively. In doing this, you create a context in which to innovate. This ensures that new ideas serve the needs of your business and aren’t a waste of resources.
This is critical because, while having everyone pursue their own personal dream is admirable, a business needs direction to generate profit.
Communicating your business vision can be achieved through presentations and speeches, 1-2-1 mentoring or as part of team building exercises. The key is to be clear, concise and honest about your vision and the path you will all take together to achieve it.
Doing this keeps your staff on the same page and allows them an opportunity to input on the direction of your business. Gather ideas and innovations, explore the business opportunities that come from them and have the courage to run with them.
This gives your people a deeper feeling of investment because they feel more personally attached to the direction and success of your business.
Why does this matter?
The workplace is changing. Millennial and Gen Z workers don’t want to build their lives around their work, they want their work to fit in with their lives.
Businesses that have a growth culture give employees a personal stake in their success. They embrace the sense of personal achievement and fulfil the need to have a positive impact on the world by making work matter.
Forward-thinking businesses are restructuring their strategic planning in order to make people an integral part of business growth. They shape their plans to meet the needs of their workforce, in the understanding that their most important competitive advantage is the talent they foster in their teams.
Employees aren’t assets any more. They’re investors. They choose to invest their time, energy and talent with your company. If you don’t put people at the heart of your business strategy, they will simply go to someone who does.
About the author
Gary Webb is director of marketing and communications for FMP Global