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Are Your People a Drag or a Sail?

Posted by Bob Corlett on January 23, 2012

We staff a lot of new initiatives. And we're often brought in when executives want to rethink how they have staffed a position.

So I regularly hear how executives talk about the intersection of strategy and people. And some executives describe their current staff like a tractor pull--a powerful engine (strategy) is dragging a heavy sled behind it (the current staff).

Organizations often say “people are our most important asset” but people are also the source of most of your problems.  People often disappoint you. Top performers quit. Average performers often fail to deliver. Bottom performers threaten to sue. Departments go to war with each other. You spend less time than you want leading new initiatives and more time than you want refereeing internal squabbles. And when I see that, I usually see an understaffed, underfunded, underwhelming HR department awaiting further instructions from the executive team.

It does not have to be that way. In great organizations the culture fuels the strategy. The HR strategy supports the business strategy. Your systems, processes, expectations and rituals give lift and propulsion to your strategy, like a sail pulling you forward.

People are not your most important asset. People come and go. How you harness human achievement is your most important asset, and your only enduring source of competitive advantage.

The systems and processes of dealing with people are where the magic happens.

  • How you attract great people, and how you recognize and deploy the internal talent you already have
  • How you align the people to the mission.
  • How you consistently inspire top performance from your people.
  • How you retain the most valuable and drive away the least valuable.
  • How you gracefully exit the people who no longer drive results.
  • And how you do all this at a price you can afford.

Competent HR keeps you in compliance with the law. Great HR practices transform people from a drag into propulsion.

Topics: Human Resources, Performance Management