Where has the time gone? By my reckoning this article marks 10 years of writing about HR for The Irish News. Hopefully most (or at least some) of what I’ve written has been either helpful or at least provoked you to think, even if you ultimately disagree.
Much of what I write about involves solutions to problems or tips to help businesses along from a people perspective. Key to all of that however is being able to diagnose which areas are working well and which are not, so you can focus your attention appropriately.
That being said, it’s really difficult to fix what you can’t see, won’t examine or don’t understand. Therefore, an appropriate diagnosis is key.
In terms of doing the diagnosing, one thing I’ve learned is that no matter If you are a start-up, recently expanded or mature, if you are just considering next steps, if you’ve been bought out, merged or been the one doing the buying, if your company is local or global, if you are top of the food chain and playing in the big leagues or still building it’s actually pretty straightforward to diagnose where your business is at in any given moment.
I always prefer a simple approach in the first instance. Companies spend a lot of money, time and effort trying to overcomplicate their thinking from the off, when starting with the basics is a much more productive way to begin to identify key issues and tease them out before more detailed solutions are considered or applied.
What’s more, the approach I suggest can be used whether it’s looking at the macro, strategic overview level, or at the micro level, where you are analysing your team.
Very good Barry, sounds like a plan, but can you now get on with telling us what that simple diagnostic approach actually is? Time is money and all that.
No problem, folks. I think of it as the ‘7Cs’. The questions accompanying each area are not prescriptive, but by using them you can start to get an understanding of the state of play (at whatever level you are applying them)
· Can you define your current culture?
· Do you promote it and actively live it?
· Does your workforce understand it?
· Is it the right fit for your company?
· Does your culture help achieve the outcomes you need (and avoid the ones you don’t)?
· Is your workforce engaged and motivated to be part of that culture?
· Do you employees have an opportunity to shape culture?
· Do you look at your workforce holistically (considering benefits, wellbeing, health etc)?
· Do you have enough people to meet demand right now?
· Have you a plan in place if demands increase or decrease; are you flexible?
· Do you have too many people?
· Are your staff multiskilled i.e. can you move them around areas of need in the business?
· If not, is there a plan for upskilling or retraining?
· Do you have a succession plan / bench strength analysis?
· Do you have the right blend of leaders, managers and team members?
· Are your staff suitable qualified, experienced and trained to do the job you require of them?
· Are the right people in the right roles?
· Do you have learning and development plans (from individual to enterprise wide) that will help staff grow with the business and be able to excel?
· Have you considered what skills your workforce will need in the coming 6 months, year, five years?
· Do you keep an eye on trends, technology and the market to help with that?
· Do you have a performance management system in place to help them grow and become better versions of themselves?
· Are you able to manage poor performers (and are you able to recognise them)?
· Are there clear and appropriate systems and tools for communication in the business?
· Are they embedded, regular and reliable?
· Do they have a purpose or are they just for show?
· Do they cover the major food groups from events and office ‘stuff’ right through to company performance, growth and the financials?
· Are staff able to ask questions? If so, do they get answers?
· Do you survey staff and ask for their opinion?
· Do you listen to the results? Do you communicate the results and benchmarked against them?
· Do staff understand what is being communicated? How do you know they do?
· Do you have a clear structure in your company /dept /team?
· Is it set up to achieve your objectives?
· Is it based on roles rather than named people?
· Do you have the right (and right level) polices, procedures, systems and processes?
· Do you review and test them?
· Are they future proofed?
· Does your Company have a purpose? A vision? One that is shared with and understood by employees.
· Is there a North Star that employees can point to and say ‘that’s what we do, what we are all about’?
· Do you know what type of business you are (tech, sales, service etc)?
· Do staff understand what their roles are?
· Do they know what they are supposed to do and how they are supposed to do it.
· Do they know what good looks like, what their targets/KPIs etc are?
· Are your processes clearly mapped out with responsibilities, decisions and cross-overs etc?
· Do staff know when and how to ask for help; and from who?
· Do they understand the aforementioned culture of the company?
· Do you have a grip on your costs?
· Do you understand what they are, what affects them and how you can influence them?
· Do you employ methodologies or principles (such as Lean) to try and reduce waste, reduce unnecessary work/processes and ultimately help reduce cost?
· Do you know where you sit against the market and specifically your competitors within that?
· Do you have the right rewards systems in place? Do bonuses etc to produce what you need? Are they appropriate for the outputs / results?
The ‘7Cs’ can be applied in whole or in part – the areas cover most of what you need to make as simple diagnosis of your business or team. Questions are not prescriptive; you will find different ones that may work better for your company needs.
Ultimately the approach is a starting point. Use it to start the process. Have fun and good luck!
- Barry Shannon is head of HR at STATSports