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2020: The year to have great vision

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The roller-coaster of 2019 screeches on, and every day of the election campaign brings us new ‘facts’ and ‘promises’ from the politicians. If you are in the middle of drawing up your business plans for next year, you can be confident that the uncertainty of the economy and the market is likely to continue for a while longer!

Amidst all that ambiguity, we still need to get planning. It seems ironic that 2020 means clear and normal vision, so how can we do the best we can with the information we have, to plan for another year of business progress?

After all, planning can help companies grow 30% faster* than those that don’t.

Every year, without fail, we start with the big questions before we get down into the detail. Here are our top 7 questions to unlock your 2020 People Strategy

Business Strategy

Every decent people plan will start with clarity on the business plan to ensure that your team are all working together to deliver the business vision.

1. Why does my business exist?
If you don’t have this captured in a sentence, carve out some time to do so. It will bring a huge amount of clarity to the business if everyone on the Senior Team, and through the business, knows why they come to work every day. It may be the same as it was on day 1, or it may be completely different. Even Ford Motors has changed from a product business to a service company. Again, all you need is a sentence, which will save a lot of time and enable business decisions to be taken more easily.

2. How will we succeed this year?
Of this set of questions, this is the most likely to change. What worked last year may not work next year. If you don’t know the answer, take a couple of hours with your Senior Team and really openly debate this question, until you can nail it down to 3-5 big goals.


3. Are your senior team aligned to deliver this plan?
Be honest with yourself: if we asked everyone in your Senior Team this question, would you get the same answer? Give us a call and we can do that if you aren’t sure!We often find that the CEO assumes there is clarity and alignment, but in practice there are lots of ideas floating around, just ready to pull people off course, create distraction and waste time.

When your Senior Team are aligned, you will make better, quicker decisions. When your team are able to engage in healthy conflict, you will also be able to debate, disagree, be heard, then come together as a group and move forward.

4. Do we have the right leadership capability in the business?
Many of the businesses we work with either have people at the Senior level who aren’t quite right for the next stage of the journey, or they are looking for key new people to join the team. It is important to be honest about who you have, what they are capable of, what you can afford right now, and what you need to be successful.That may mean a Senior team review is in order. If that sounds really uncomfortable, please do pick up the phone for a chat: we can help you understand what it entails.


5. How do we behave?
At People Puzzles, we explain culture as what people do at work when nobody is watching. Values aren’t meant to be bold words that people stick on the wall, they are meant to be truths about how you can expect to be treated, and how you are expected to behave. It makes hiring (and firing) much easier, and makes the basis for great conversations to deal with those difficult people, such as mood hoovers.


6. Do we have the right people on the right seats?
Both parts of that question are important: the right person covers experience, skills, attitude and fit. The right seat means looking at what they are doing, how that fits in, and what they are going to deliver. You can end up with the right person on the wrong seat or the wrong person on the right seat. Take a structured approach and work your way through the whole organisation. Then sort out the problems that you find.


7. Are we arranged so everyone can do their best work?
Sometimes the problem is not with who, it is with the structure, and the design of the organisation as a whole. Some companies are straightforward: one site, simple hierarchy. In our experience this is rare! In today’s world, most companies are complex organisations, over multi-site, multi time-zone, with office based, remote and flexible workers. It has never been so important to understand work flows, have clear lines of communication and accountability, and free people up to do their best work.

Who is responsible for your People Plan?

Well, hopefully someone is!

For most companies, the payroll is significant part of the monthly outgoings. With that in mind, being sure that the investment is paying off is a strategic role.

A strong People Director is able to challenge and support the Senior Team, helping to plan for the future whilst ensuring things are productive and efficient today. He/she should add value by asking difficult questions, bringing clarity, and helping to build a highly cohesive team to drive the business forward. All these are big questions about where your business is going and how you can be more successful.

If you haven’t had a leadership away day recently to hammer this out (or ever), get in touch to book one in. It really will help you to have that 2020 vision to navigate the next 12 months.


* Burke, A., Fraser, S., & Greene, F. J. (2010). The multiple effects of business planning on new venture performance. Journal of Management Studies, 47(3), 391-415.

Carole has helped me and the business massively and added real value while helping us shape the business.

Stuart Hill, CEO, WNDirect

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