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with Rick Beaton, PhD.

Who Owns People Strategy?

Hi All,

Who owns people strategy at your company? HR? CEO? CFO?

This is the most important question facing executives in the post-Covid context and there isn’t an easy answer to it. Every leader in every department plays a significant role in shaping and enacting the approach to people that will determine how employees experience their work at your business. It is no wonder that organizations are so murky and unfocused in their approach to people.

People have always been central to business success. We need people in every role and function with the skills essential to doing their job to a high level. The problem in a remote or hybrid environment is that it is a challenge to track, map and manage the development, work flow and performance for each individual. Chaos ensues.

Most leaders have differing views and practices about what constitutes development, motivation, culture, leadership, managerial performance, etc. When we add unconscious and affinity bias, it becomes more complex and chaotic.

Similar to the manner in which a CFO guides the financial capital of the organization through a unified, agreed upon model, budgets, and commitments, a people strategy role (now most often Chief People Officer) should be tasked with guiding all matters related to the people side of the organization. This role is in tension and conversation with the CEO, COO, CFO, CRO.

A people strategist is a new role for this new talent centric era. They are responsible for ensuring that the organization has and will continue to have well developed, high performing individuals and teams. They need to be included in the C-suite conversations because the decisions made on that level.

A people strategist has two elements to their background. Because people are complicated, professional knowledge derived from an advanced degree in a field that specializes in people is essential. Lay knowledge that draws solely from experiences is not adequate to the task. Second, we look for broad organizational and life experience. Expertise is a combination of both factors that results in how to create a human ecosystem that lays the foundation of the pursuit of traditional business outcomes.

In a talent era, where we do primarily knowledge/concept work we need a new approach.

  1. Appoint a senior people strategist who has real expertise with people to your C-suite.

  2. Begin to create practices of continuous learning and performance management. This models how people learn, become proficient and even master a skill.

  3. Adopt software applications that integrate the entire employee journey into one location. Onboarding, career path & essential skills, feedback, check-ins, goal setting, promotion levels and criteria, and annual review conversations should all be located in one site. Multiple applications don’t just confuse, they actually lead to increased stress, and lower performance and engagement.

  4. Start today!! Don’t wait until you have all the ducks in a row! You can begin to build a solid people strategy into your organization immediately. It will improve over time.

Here are a few ways to get things going:

  • Pick a department and experiment with them.

  • Map professional career paths with seniority levels and itemized skills essential for each level. This should be a living document, refreshed regularly to reflect need.

  • Provide personal portals into these career paths. This provides each employee a transparent, fair chance to grow their career.

  • Allow for a broader definition of learning that incorporates content, practice and constructive engagement (5:1 positive vs. constructive comments) through feedback, check-ins and reviews.

  • Work at appointing and developing managers that have the capacity and skills to manage both workflow and people. Not everyone can. Create scaffolding to help managers become successful.

  • Realignment of people strategy and practices that lead to a robust human ecosystem is like weaving a carpet. Each layer we weave becomes more textured, it adds to the weave.

In the post-Covid world, human centered organizations are the norm. We must intentionally manage culture, development, and performance. However, we must also now focus on individualizing and personalizing the employee journey. Humans are complex and unique in really important ways.



April 26, 2021 at 4:00:00 PM
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