The one role every ambitious business should add to their team

by The Technical Blogs

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People Puzzles is a Business Reporter client.

Up to two-thirds of growing businesses are missing out by not having an effective people strategy in place. Are you?

Imagine having a trusted people expert in your business. Someone you could totally rely on to help you deal with the challenges and opportunities that come with leading a team and scaling a business. A people-focused, commercially astute advisor at your side to help strengthen your business’s foundations for sustainable growth.

Being able to afford to add a senior people leader to your team may seem like a far-off goal for many businesses, but there is an effective way to access this talent more realistically.

Thousands of ambitious, fast-growing businesses have already discovered the value of this way of working and it’s proving to be game-changing for them.

The power of a trusted people expert

In our survey of over 500 business leaders, results showed significant opportunities for improvement in people strategy, impacting growth potential, talent attraction, retention, future-readiness, investment opportunity and overall commercial performance. Just 16 per cent of respondents felt confident across all areas of people strategy, indicating that for the vast majority, there is significant room for improvement.

However, most growing businesses don’t want, need or can’t afford a full-time people director. The skills and guidance they provide to help businesses tackle the most challenging issues are undeniably valuable, but accessing that level of expertise has traditionally been beyond their reach. Being able to access this resource on a flexible, fractional basis is therefore a perfect way for growing businesses to access the talent they need in a way that works for them.

What is fractional consultancy?

Fractional consultancy is one of the fastest-growing trends for smaller and mid-market businesses, and it’s not hard to see why it is a genuine win-win for businesses.

Unlike traditional consultancy, which is usually short-term and leaves a business with a long to-do list and a big invoice to pay, fractional work is a longer-term, flexible arrangement whereby an established expert works alongside the senior leadership team in the mid-to-long term on a part-time basis, not only assessing what needs doing but working within the business to deliver the plan. They become a trusted advisor to the leaders of the business, delivering the agreed roadmap to achieve both commercial and cultural goals.

Why do growing businesses need a strategic people plan?

Having a strategic people plan is proven to have positive commercial benefits. Whether a business is scaling up, pitching for investment, going through a merger or acquisition or simply looking to build strong foundations to support future growth, having a people-centric roadmap to follow is essential.

An experienced people director can have commercial impact from day one. For most clients we work with, the people plan is constructed and ready for action in around six weeks from appointment, often on a one or two days per week basis.

During this “discovery” phase, people directors will conduct interviews across a business to diagnose and assess its current status, helping leaders to clarify and communicate vision and strategy, and formulate a customised plan to get each business to where it wants to go.

Our results showed that only about 10 per cent of business leaders surveyed were confident that their wider team was aware of or aligned with the business plan and commercial targets, and only 16 per cent felt their teams understood how their roles contributed to business goals.

Developing a magnetic employer value proposition

Talent attraction and retention are among the most common issues we see day-to-day in client businesses. A people director can help create and communicate a magnetic employer value proposition (EVP) to make a business more appealing to applicants and employees alike, driving better performance and productivity and keeping the best people on board for longer.

The benefits of a great EVP are significant. Not only do you attract a higher quality of candidate, but you can reduce recruitment and onboarding costs, develop talent more demonstrably in-house and retain people for longer, adding to your enterprise value over time and giving you competitive commercial advantage.

A compelling EVP starts with a strong culture which, again, a people director can facilitate and develop. From well-developed leadership competencies to diversity and inclusivity compliance to creating productive and motivating environments where people feel valued, safe and invested in, a good company culture is the foundation of great business performance. Again, survey results indicate significant gaps in these areas.

Future-ready leadership and organisational structure

Strategic organisational design is at the heart of every thriving business. Having the right people in the right seats, with a long-term succession plan aligned with the business vision, is critical, and often lacking in rapidly growing businesses.

In fact, although 70 per cent of respondents felt confident that their resourcing and skills planning in the mid-to-long term was sufficiently well planned to meet the needs of the business, only 11 per cent felt they had a strong talent development programme in place, and just 9 per cent had a clearly documented succession plan.

Attracting investment with a strategic people plan

Around two-thirds of ambitious businesses attract external funding to enable accelerated growth. But evolution of the private equity market, driven largely by a turbulent economy which makes the faster option of financial engineering less commercially attractive, means more investors are looking for businesses to have a well-designed strategic people plan in place to secure sustainable long-term growth.

The future of work

Technology may be the first thing springing to mind when considering the future of work, and of course, embracing the efficiencies and improvements that better technology can offer does form a part of modern HR. From a broader business perspective however, the future of work must be people-centric to continue to attract, develop and retain the best talent in the market and build businesses that can thrive in the long term.

Operational HR will continue to have a well-developed people strategy, and creating democratised access to that talent is an enormous opportunity for growing businesses across the UK.


How do you and your business perform? Use the People Strategy Scorecard to get a full picture of how your business is performing across six critical areas. Please visit www.peoplepuzzles.co.uk/scorecard.

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