Where to Start to Craft a Solid People Strategy

In the past few years, anyone leading an organization must have noticed that there has been a higher focus on improving organizational culture, redefining the employee experience, and leading with positive impact.

And one of the strategies used to help organizations implement transformational initiatives is to craft a solid people strategy.

For leaders who know that they should have a people strategy but don't know where to start, here are a few ideas that can help.

Break down the journey

The first thing to do is to break down the journey into sections and work on one aspect of it at a time.

Create a targeted talent acquisition strategy 

The first section to start with is creating a targeted talent acquisition strategy. Why would you want to create a targeted talent acquisition strategy? To make sure that you're attracting the candidates who are most likely to be successful within your organization.

The “right talent” is not the same for everyone. Not everyone has the same needs. Not every organization will be looking for the same personality type. And even if you have a personality type, is that even what you need? Do you need a different personality type on your team to help complement or balance things out? You really have to start there. You have to start with making sure that you're attracting candidates who are likely to be successful. Indeed, there is no perfect solution. We can't just say, well, this is the “right” candidate. It's more: “Are they likely, most likely, less likely to be successful?” There will always be times when there's this person that you interview and feel they are perfect, and then they show up and after a week, two weeks, three weeks, it’s not working out as expected.

But we still want to aim to reduce the number of times this happens by having a specific, targeted talent acquisition strategy. 

A few key elements of this is to start by reviewing the language on your site, reviewing the language in the job descriptions, reviewing the language in the interviews, and making sure that the culture that is being advertised in those places is the culture that they're actually going to be living in the day to day.

Develop an adaptable retention strategy

Once you've attracted those amazing individuals, then you need to retain them. 

This means developing them and helping elevate them. Each person is motivated by different things. Once we’ve met the most obvious one, making sure the salary is such that it makes sense for the position, the environment, the skills level, etc. and the individual is not in a position where they are concerned about not making enough money to, for example, pay the mortgage and feed their family, then we get into a different type of motivation. And that's where we really have to work at getting to know the person. And really getting to know what interests that person and how can we elevate them.

As part of that adoption strategy that will flow from your recruiting strategy, then you want to make sure that there's lots of room for versatile motivating elements and make sure that those components can grow with the team members in their individual roles. And that could be maybe during the one-on-ones where you get to know them more and find out how to help elevate them and support them. Maybe it's mentoring. Perhaps we can support them that way.

Figure out how you will be able to help them grow and develop, and feel fulfilled in their position within your organization.

Establish a realistic exit and replacement strategy

Once you have your targeted recruiting strategy, once you have your way to support them – your retention strategy –, then you want to work on establishing a realistic exit and replacement strategy. 

And you might be wondering why you would want to work on that.

Because people won't stay forever.

And if, as a business owner, your mindset is “I'm going to grow you. I've invested in you, so you must stay here.” That's not going to work.

We have to be realistic that, at some point, team members will leave.

And so if you have a realistic exit and replacement strategy, then, when it happens – because it's not “if”, it's “when” – you'll be better prepared. And if you have a process in place, then it is less likely to negatively impact on your organization.

What could be included in this part of the journey?

Make sure that you know what transitions could look like. What would happen if a particular person were to leave? What could that transition look like? Have a plan for that. Have some strategies, some ideas.

Also, how is knowledge going to be transferred? Is there a way that you could implement something now in your operations that would help knowledge be more easily transferred when that person leaves?

If you already have that in place, then maybe knowledge transfer will be easier when that time comes. 

As part of the strategy, think about how the onboarding-offboarding could be done more efficiently. Yes, do consider onboarding at this time because it really is a cycle. You have one person leaving and another coming on. And it becomes essentially a circle. And you want to pair your offboarding with your onboarding to make sure it's done as efficiently as possible.

Obtain feedback and pair with your HR strategy

As you're going through the cycle, as you're going through revising, each step, obtain feedback to improve. And also, of course, because this is your “people” strategy. You want to focus on the people and making sure that you're retaining them as long as reasonably possible.

In addition to this, consider how your people strategy will work with your HR strategy. Quickly: for me, a people strategy is more focused on individuals, on attracting, retaining, developing, supporting, encouraging, replacing, etc. Whereas an HR strategy, to me, is more administrative, related to compliance, rules and regulations, potentially collective agreements, etc. Everybody has their own way of distinguishing it. But for me that's how I distinguish them.

In incorporating feedback, see what works, see what doesn't, and try different things. If you don't try things, you're not going to improve as quickly. 

Once you've been through the three main aspects of that people journey, go through the process again and incorporate changes. Keep incorporating changes and keep improving. 

At one point you'll essentially be able to follow various team members as they go through the cycle. Because once you've improved it enough, then you're just pretty much looking for smaller points of improvements as opposed to big overhauls. And once you get into that quasi-maintenance mode, then you can simply follow people through the cycles and obtain timely feedback. And then just keep adjusting, keep tweaking, keep making it better for that next team member.


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