many organizations, yours has spent considerable time developing a strategic
plan for the next 2-3 years or updating an existing one. You, and perhaps your
team, have spent a lot of time working through market scenarios, the
competitive environment, product development roadmaps or service delivery
options. As a result, you have likely looked at a number of financial models.
All of this work is the basis for the new business plan. So now you have a 2010
business plan – and given the current economic environment chances are it is
not business as usual. If it is business as usual – read no further. If your
plans or direction has changed or will change then you may have missed a key
step. What could that be?
may be missing is the very thing that will make your plan a success or a
failure, the single largest cost in the financial model, your people and your
partners. Before you start running or expect others to run for you:
Rethink “The Skills”
your organization is delivering service differently or selling new products,
don’t assume these can be done with the same skills used in last year’s world.
Some organizations cut all training and development during 2009, others
continued some training but was it forward thinking? Including a review of your
employee skills in the planning stages ensures they are able to help you
deliver on your new plan. Implementing training as early on in the process
means people are ready to run on the first day of the fiscal year. Taking these
actions as an after thought puts the organization behind the curve and the
first quarter ‘at risk’. Communicating upcoming changes, as early as possible,
to your partners and suppliers can help them gear up to support you without the
loss of valuable time.
Revisit “The Desired Culture”
mantra here at The PartnerFirm is “Culture | Behaviours | Focus | Results”. We
utilize a methodology for articulating the culture required to win by looking
at the fiscal year and strategic plans and calling out the behaviours needed
for success. These are behavioural skills, whereas, the skills in the
“Re-think” step above are hard or technical skills. For example, if the
organization is entering a new market – it’s critical to determine what it will
take to sell in that market. If the past or current selling style is
relationship based and the new market requires a more aggressive approach,
chances are, the sales team, as a whole, can’t deliver. Determining the
behaviours the organization needs demonstrated, by members of the team, can
become the key to success. Building this work into your planning process allows
the time required to ensure that recruiting is focused on finding the right
people, people that demonstrate the behaviours needed. Remember (culture -
behaviours) + (focus) = results.
Re-evaluate “The People”
next step is to do a gap analysis. Consider employees in every function and
determine whether you have any gaps in technical skill sets and put together a
training plan. Now cross reference everyone to the list of behaviours the
organization needs to be successful in its new business plan or strategy. These
are tougher and may not be trainable. As they say, “you can’t change the spots
on a leopard”. Create your list of behaviours (teamwork, customer focus,
collegial, high energy, entrepreneurial and so on) and then conduct behavioural
interviews with your people and partners to determine what, if any, gaps exist.
This is the best, bias-free approach to determining job and culture fit, even
internally. There are varying degrees of customer service, as we all know
unfortunately, but those who are truly good at it – actually enjoy it and live
it. Decide if you can live with the gaps people may demonstrate, if you
determine the gap is too wide – it’s time to get someone who delivers. Tough
decisions, tough times.
Re-think, Revisit, and Re-evaluate, there is one last MUST DO and that is
revamp. Revamp your existing recruiting and selection process to ensure you
bring people in by including behavioural interviewing to detect the behaviours
you’ve identified. Revamp your existing performance management program to set
goals that reinforce those who demonstrate the desired behaviours and clearly
identify those who do not (yes – you can rate performance in behaviours!). And
finally, revamp your rewards, compensation and bonus/commission programs to
recognize those that deliver. If left as is, these programs will work counter
to your change efforts by not focusing on and rewarding or paying for the “new”
way of doing things.
One last Caveat
is not just a process that applies to the troops. Leadership team members
should also be assessed. Nothing will tank a program faster than a leader that
is not on board.
leadership has new challenges in the current economic environment. As noted in
a recent McKinsey article “The range of possible futures confronting business
today is great.” Leaders must demonstrate, in addition to other behaviours,
flexibility, awareness, creativity, and resiliency in order for the
organization to prosper. Perhaps most importantly, they must expect and foster
the same from their teams.