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People Readiness is Business Readiness

by: Alexander M. Genil

The year-end homestretch is upon us, and adding to the holiday rush are annual business planning activities coupled with that final push to reach performance targets and client commitments. By this time, many leadership teams have already taken stock of what to prepare for in 2018. The usual givens are a mainstay in any planning template: what changes will be anticipated, how will the business respond, and what can be expected from the competition. Change and disruption are ever more so pervasive across all industries, and is accelerated by the way technology redefines business models and client engagement. Business agility and responsiveness to change will be critical, with customers becoming more demanding. Competition includes current players and the emergence of new and highly dynamic enterprises that continue to challenge the status quo.

By this time, companies have already taken all these into consideration, and the picture of success next year already defined and painted. Business objectives have already been laid out, and strategies and steps to achieve the objectives are already designed and polished for execution. The new year’s business plan involves a lot of moving parts: processes, tools, financials, market activity (includes clients and competitors), economic outlook, politics, the list goes on.

But at the heart of the business planning exercise lies the company’s talent. All of the moving parts will impact human capital, and ensuring that the company’s workforce is ready should remain high on any management team’s priority list. Surprisingly, this is the key aspect of planning that many companies are lacking in terms of time and energy. Think about it: whatever business outcome that companies will aspire for and work towards for, lies on the shoulders of people and teams. This is a major opportunity for HR to add real value.

Business readiness boils down to people readiness. Think about where your company stands when asked these questions: Do your people know and understand your goals for the coming year? Are they on board and do they have venues where they can discuss this with management? Do they need new skills? What will it take to retool and/or develop your staff? Are you losing people and for what reasons? Do you know who your top talents are and how are you retaining them? Is your leadership team creating the right culture that will enable your employees to perform well and in turn enable your company to succeed? If the answers to these questions are tentative or unknown, then much needed conversations need to take place. More importantly, if HR is proactive enough to lead the way, then half of the work may be considered done.

The cycle of planning, execution, evaluation, and iteration never ends. Companies that move forward tend to take this quite seriously, and are most mindful that stakeholders are people first before they are workers, partners, or clients. If management teams continue to put people first, success is the definite outcome.