Maximising the return on your staff investment requires a bit of planning. You need to connect your staff to your vision of company success, organise your departments and job roles then monitor and manage performance.
7 Top Tips for developing your staffing plan:
Agree on the main purpose and objectives of the company
- High level statements of purpose and intent can be compelling for employees who, in general, want to feel connected to a common cause and understand what they are contributing to. The pure profit motive does not go down brilliantly, so consider something more about the essence of your business, what it does, what it stands for and where it’s going. Don’t get too lost on terminology, but some businesses think in terms of :
- Mission – your purpose; why the company exists. Typically this will include who it serves, what is does and where; it’s competitive advantage, goals and philosophies. It is focused on the present, leading to the future.
- Vision – this is more about what you want to achieve or create in the future by pursuing your Mission. It is therefore entirely future focused. Where will it be? What will it have accomplished? What difference will it have made?
- Values – often referred to as “guiding principles”. A value statement tells the customer and the employee where the company stands and what the company believes in. It sets an expectation for the customer about how they will be treated and for the employee on how they should behave.
Agree a strategy for achieving success over the next 1-3 years
- High level statements can be inspiring, but they don’t tell you how your goals will be achieved over the next period of time. A strategy will set out a game plan in enough detail for departments to see what they need to do, to what standard and by when. It therefore follows that individuals can be targeted to achieve their part of the equation.
- The strategy needs to be flexible though, as unexpected events will have an impact on it. It needs to be reviewed regularly.
- There are numerous strategy development models that can help you prioritise, plan and coordinate – success depends on each part of the business working well together.
Communicate your vision and plans to your staff
- In our experience, leaders of SMEs normally have a clear sense of what they want to achieve and how. Often, however, these are well kept secrets! In general, employees are motivated by feeling part of a wider purpose. Most will take account of what is aspired to in how they go about their business. This information helps them to feel empowered and do their best for the business.
- We believe that you should trust that most of your staff are inclined to be positive about the business. This is an important mind-set and will influence your leadership style. A positive approach can start with you setting out the vision and plans for your business to your staff.
Organise your departments in the most effective way to achieve success
- Having a well communicated purpose and strategy makes it easy to allocate specific objectives to your departments with clear expectations for delivery.
- If you drew up your company organisation chart to suit your current strategy, would it look the same as the organisation structure you currently have? If not, challenge yourself as to how you might get closer to it. Life is never as simple as a blank sheet of paper, but you do need to make change happen in order to move forward.
Give each job role a clearly defined purpose, responsibilities and success criteria
- A job description is a tool to help you focus individual staff members on their key tasks, responsibilities and success measures. Look at it this way – the sum total of all the job descriptions should deliver your strategy. Drawing them up need not be a massive task – try giving your employees a blank template and asking them to complete it. Not only does this give you a good starting point, but also an insight to how connected they are to the strategy! The process of refining it with them can help enormously in getting them focused.
Make sure your company culture works in favour of your objectives and not against them.
- A simple definition of culture is ‘the way things get done around here’ (Deal and Kennedy, 1982). It is a collection of the values, norms, working language, beliefs and habits that are present in the collective behaviour. These are the things you tune in to when deciding if you fit in or not! The key thing about the culture is that it affects how people and groups interact with each other, with clients, and other stakeholders.
- The way that the leader(s) behave is a key influence on culture. What are the things you pay attention to, what do you prize above all else? What are the things that really push your buttons, and how do you behave when your buttons are pushed?!
- A culture is inherent in any group of people – so your business will have one, like it or not! There is no generic ‘ideal’ culture – but there are ways of working out what yours is, and whether it is working for or against your chances of success.
Measure and manage company and individual performance
- Managing performance is about measuring outputs that are crucial to success, reviewing those measures occasionally, interpreting the results and making adjustments to ensure that everything remains on track. This is normally done at a high level using key financial, customer and perhaps staff related measures.
- The same process can also be used at a department and individual level to make sure that everything is still ‘in tune’. E.g., at a very operational level, do your supervisors know how to set the right objectives for their staff, monitor, review and adjust as necessary? If this basic process is happening at every level, performance will be maximised.
- Do you know how to deal with an individual who is under-performing? If you do not tackle it, the cost to your business can be huge, not just in the lost performance but also in the impact on morale of other team members when they see problems go unaddressed. Tackling under-performance is a key indicator of a high performance culture.
Are you maximising the return on your investment in staff?
Our Top Tips:
Have a staffing plan that helps you achieve your business ambitions
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