The start of a New Year is always a great time to think about the future. Do you have a plan for recruiting, training, and developing employees? Have you defined your company culture and created a plan for implementation? If so, you are ahead of the game—and you are following a path that successful organizations like Apple, Amazon.com, and Disney have blazed. Like many companies, if you don’t have a defined plan, you can start by answering these three questions:
1) What is your company culture, and how will you strengthen it? What does your company stand for? Are you focused on delivering exceptional customer service? Fostering innovation? Teamwork? What are the quirks or nuances that make your organization unique? Once you’ve defined your culture, it’s important that you take steps to keep it healthy. Retreats, team-building exercises, and workshops are a great start—but to truly grow your culture requires focused energy on a daily basis. This is where social media has fabulous tools to grow and foster your culture, but before using these tools, it’s important to clearly define your culture.
2) How will you attract and retain talented individuals? The key to the future growth of your business lies in the caliber of the employees you bring in. If the top talent is consistently choosing your competitors, you are going to face the prospect of a slow decline. How will you attract top talent? As many studies show, competitive salaries are important to people, but so are many other factors—benefits, flexible scheduling, appealing work environment, and more. Of course, retention is critical—and that’s where a vibrant company culture is invaluable. Work hard to create a stimulating, fulfilling environment for your employees. The secret is often establishing ways for employees to ‘feed’ your culture for you, so get them involved in designing your retention strategies by finding out why your best employees stay with you.
3) How will you groom future leaders of your organization? Now that we’re thinking big picture, take a moment to consider the future of your organization. Where will the next generation of leaders come from? World-class businesses prefer to promote from within, ensuring that their leaders are steeped in the company culture and understand the day-to-day operations of the business. But, if you neglect to groom future leaders, you’ll find yourself with no option but to hire an outsider. Work to identify potential leaders early on and give them opportunities to build their leadership skills by assigning them to lead teams and manage projects. Assessments that measure job fit are invaluable and inexpensive to utilize during this leadership identification process.
If you can answer these questions, you’ve got the basics of an effective "people plan" in place. However, it is vital that you turn these thoughts into a written plan complete with specific action items, timetables, and accountability for who on your team is responsible for each action item. Remember that you can even enlist those potential future leaders to be part of the plan. You’ll benefit from the extra help, and more importantly, you’ll learn who is up for the task. This plan will play a substantial role in determining the success of your business over the long term, so take this opportunity to address it. Here’s to a prosperous 2012!
[Image: Flickr user peter barwick]