Why you need a people strategy if you want to deliver your business goals


This blog post has been produced for the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce as part of the 2019 Growth Through People campaign.

Growth Through People is the Chamber’s annual campaign aiming to help local firms boost productivity and grow through improved leadership and people management skills. In 2019 this involves 15 free events, workshops and training sessions taking place between 25th February and 26th March, along with thought leadership videos and blog content such as this.

Thanks to our sponsors – the University of Birmingham, Aston University, Curium Solutions and CIPD - all events are free to attend. Interested readers can find out more here.

Whatever the size of your business you will almost certainly have ambition and goals for success. Your goals might be to increase turnover by 100%, to be the best in your field, to increase customer satisfaction, to expand by diversifying product or service: to relocate, or to change the skills needed for future success. In order to fulfil your goals you will have set out some actions to deliver success. However you may not have a people strategy even though it’s your people that will deliver your success.  

What is a people strategy? Well it’s not the HR strategy! The difference is that the former speaks the language of the business and works for the business to reduce risk and to deliver its goals, whereas the latter is an internal strategy for HR, these are not the same!

Think for the moment about wanting to expand into Europe, how will that business recruit? How will it employ new staff in other countries and how will it communicate with these new employees? Or a business wanting to become more local or regionalised; how are those people to be managed when not sitting at a desk right in front of you? What are the skills that people will need in your business for the future and how will you build those skills?

A People Strategy must be developed and agreed by the business, it is not a HR ‘thing’. It is an effective tool towards delivering your success and needs to be owned by you! Effective HR can ensure the people strategy is brought to life and delivered, but you own it.

Gone are the days of ignoring your greatest asset, your people. As the world of work changes so does the strategy for how you employ people and put them to work. To fully engage your people, to manage them effectively and to see how they contribute to your success, we must invest some time thinking about what your business will look like in the future:

  • Where will people need to work,
  • What skills will they need
  • How you want to develop your people
  • The scope for progression
  • What the risks are
  • How you attract and retain people
  • How you manage performance
  • How you reward and recognise their achievements

A business without any strategy for its people will inevitably take decisions in and hoc manner, will be misaligned and somewhat chaotic and whilst a people strategy does not need to be complicated, it does need to exist!

Dianne is a leadership coach and experienced HR director working with leaders to design and deliver people strategies.

Dianne Hughes
Chartered Fellow