Delivering a People Strategy for Change and Transformation - Does your behaviour let you down?
Updated: Mar 2
There is a positive move towards developing a coherent plan in which organisations set out their intentions and actions which will drive improvements in organisational effectiveness and ensure a modern approach people practice. Increasingly this is called People Strategy and, at last, people are seen as key to organisational success, and planning for their recruitment, development and wellbeing is as vital as any other business strategy. These documents reflect the detailed thinking required to make sure that organisations have the right people, ready, willing and able to deliver their business goals now and into the future.
Some great work is being done to define what is needed and put plans in place to ensure that organisations can attract and retain the talent needed, develop people and ensure that they can work in a supportive and inclusive culture and that they are well managed and well led. We are seeing a renewed focus on workforce planning, succession management and talent development which has the potential to impact positively on our workforce and our economic success, increasing capacity and improving skills and productivity. It is all good stuff but will it deliver on all the promises?
There is a clear link between these intentions and the behaviours needed to realise ambitions. Intentions are all well and good but unless and until the behaviours align to make things happen they remain intentions. It is a reality in life that sometimes whilst our intentions are good, our behaviour lets us down. For example, often, at the beginning of the week, we set out our intention to eat more healthily and exercise more, only to find our hand in the biscuit tin on Tuesday afternoon and a ready excuse to skip the exercise sessions by Wednesday? The same is true in organisations. Great intentions are not matched with the behaviours that will deliver the desired results rendering the strategy a redundant document, full of lofty ideas and intended actions. No change there then.
So what will make the difference? Detailed action planning, realistic deliverables and milestones and regular monitoring of progress of course. Great, but not enough to really realise that all-important change and transformation. What makes the difference is the will. The buy in from the top. The vision and the drive that sets out what needs to happen and investment of time and energy in maintaining momentum and forward movement. Determination in the face of resistance and challenge. Leaders need to set out their intention and then role model the behaviours that deliver. There it is again, that shadow, that visible leadership that translates intention into action.
Leaders do this in different ways. It is not a question of style but there is a real requirement to live the change you want to see. Too often senior leaders take part in high level meetings, setting out objectives and goals and endorsing plans then leave those meetings thinking that the job is done – or more worryingly that, someone else will deliver the required outcomes. More concerning still are those who agree to things in meetings and then, quite blatantly, disregard the decision if it is inconvenient or hard to implement in their own part of the business. Does that ever happen where you are? This is a real and present danger for senior leaders. Commitment to the vision, sticking by decisions and following through, even when it is tough. That is what will make the difference between talking about something and actually doing it. It is hard work and requires commitment.
Whatever the intention the focus and attention of the leadership team will make the biggest impact on successful delivery. Knowing and playing to your strengths as a leader can help too. Whatever you are good at, do more of it to drive the positive behaviours needed. Let people see that you mean it. Leading from the front has never been more important as our organisations change and adapt and face new challenges. Set out your intentions and don’t let your behaviour get in the way of your success.
For organisations developing People Strategy, make sure that all leaders, at every level and in every corner of the business are engaged and involved so that they understand their role and hold them to decisions and actions in realising the outcomes. Be prepared to challenge where these differ. It is a long term strategy that requires vigilance and energy. It is worth it. Oh, and step away from the biscuit tin!
Contact Sue Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org