Have you ever heard your company’s owner or CEO exclaim at a meeting, or in an email, that “our people are our most valuable asset?” I have. Over and over again I’ve heard my share of those speeches, or seen those emails, during the many years that I’ve worked in the business world.
Although, one thing that always perplexed me was that when it came to annual business planning, it was all about the business. No mention of those “valuable assets” at all.
Many people I worked with viewed business planning solely as changing numbers in a spreadsheet. In reality, all this amounted to was changing numbers for the goals. That is not a business plan. Goals are one component of the business plan, but it is also important to know “what” to do, and “how” you are going to achieve those goals. These were often missing from annual business plans, as was one more critical element. “People” plans.
Businesses don’t build themselves. It is the people that work in the business that build it. One thing I have discovered, not only as an employee but also as a consultant and someone involved in organizational development for many years, is that a bonus creates excitement, but it is a very short-lived feeling. Sustained excitement and passion for an employer often develops with continuous learning and professional growth. This directly benefits the retention of valuable people as well as improved business results. This is where a People Plan comes in.
Now you may be asking, “What is a People Plan?” I’ll elaborate.
This kind of plan is an organizational roadmap that constructs a clear snapshot of every team providing insight into their current strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, this plan gives a clear roadmap on how to maximize the strength of every team and individual. To implement such plans, there are 7 essential components:
1. Team Calibrations:
In this exercise, every team leader plots their team on a performance matrix against 2 evaluated key variables. Those variables are “performance” and “potential.” I have used both 4 grid and 9 grid variations of this exercise. The grids aid in identifying performers who are both strong and promotable, those who are consistently performing and happy where they are, as well as those who are struggling. To be successful, the organization needs every link in their chain to be strong, which is why this exercise works best when it is required to be completed by every Manager. Doing this during mid-year and annual performance reviews is ideal, yet at a minimum, I am a huge fan of it being an integral part of the annual business planning process. Some managers tend to be lackadaisical because they continuously tolerate mediocrity. Implementing a process likes this holds every Manager accountable to the organization to make sure they are doing everything they can to field the strongest team possible.
2. Succession Planning and Bench-strength Building:
Having identified who the strongest performers are within the organization, these are the people who 1) you can least afford to lose, 2) your competito