Written by
Changeboard Team

Published
03 May 2011

How can you help align the business towards growth?

03 May 2011 • by Changeboard Team

You need to prioritise and think ahead

Depending on which way the wind was blowing and which news reports we read, 2009/2010 were interesting years. The economy was either recovering or we were in for a double-dip, triple-dip, or who knows what else.

Little seems likely to change significantly in 2011. The private sector may be emerging as the economic engine at the beginning of the year, but public spending cuts will have an impact as the year progresses, which will slow the private sector down. There is still a high degree of uncertainty, yet we are starting to see growth-oriented priorities come back to life and perhaps, dare I say it, we may begin to feel a sense of normality sometime later in the year.

Growth combined with economic uncertainty can make human resources decisions difficult to plan for. Indeed, in a recent survey from DDI (2010), only 11% of our mid-level leaders felt well prepared for the business environment which lies ahead.

Employment growth is on the horizon in the private sector, yet there are many reasons to believe that the pattern of job growth will be compounded by the severity of the recent recession. Many companies are starting to see the following trends emerging:

  • Recruiting resources are lean due to staff cuts.
  • Turnover of full-time staff is taking a slight upturn as the incumbent population grows restless and sees opportunity elsewhere.
  • Some areas of the business are starting to create jobs but the demand for new hires is taking more and more time.

Clearly, as a business leader, you need to prioritise and think ahead to ensure your recruitment matches your business needs. Time taken out to plan business objectives and evaluate the skillset within the organisation will pay dividends over the long-term. Here are some guidelines for aligning the business towards growth.

Identify business objectives

What will propel your business out of recession? 

  • Entry into new markets?
  • Product innovation?
  • Focus on the top-tier of customers?  

Whatever made the company successful pre-recession, may not necessarily move the company forward during lean times. You must identify the company’s strategy for growth and HR has a role to play in ensuring existing staff and new recruits are equipped with the right skillset to deliver the strategy.

What will you need from your people to get there?

What is driving your talent management strategy?

  • Is it to reinvent a culture of innovation?
  • Is it creating succession of the senior leadership team? 
  • Are you looking to make the right decision on who should be your next CEO? 
  • Or do you need to assess the readiness of your high-potentials to make their next career leap?

Whatever the requirements, the starting point is to have a good understanding of your existing talents, those of new recruits and their ability to deliver the business strategy.

Assess strengths and weaknesses

Depending on budget, there are varying levels of assessment available, from full simulation-based assessment to 360 degree and interview-based assessment.

Any assessment should be designed to bring out key strengths of an individual, as well as identify areas for improvement. This will form the starting blocks from which to develop a structured development programme that will maximise strengths and close any development gaps.

Align development across the organisation

Mid and senior level managers can either help or hinder any long-term sustainability of training and development. In fact, the majority of people who leave their employer say they do so not because of the company, but because of their manager.

It’s better that managers' buy-in to a development programme, for themselves as well as their team, from the start. Supporting a coaching culture, so that leaders can work with and support individuals in their team to reach their personal and business targets, is a fundamental leadership skill that is often misunderstood and poorly executed.

“The only real competitive advantage is the people” has never been truer than right now. Whatever 2011 brings, it will be the people within your organisation which will carry you through the turbulence of last year into a brighter future. Aligning a talent management strategy closely with business objectives will ensure you head down the right road to recovery.