As executive search and leadership development specialists we meet a lot of different companies of all shapes and sizes both in the UK and internationally.
Many of our conversations start in the boardroom and it is striking to understand their view of what makes a successful organisation. Those who have really focused on building a people and high talent-centric business are certainly standing head and shoulders above their competitors and are enjoying the revenue and profits growth that comes with it. They also have lower attrition levels as employees love coming to work and are able to deliver their own personal vision over a number of years.
One particular client comes to mind when I think about a people first organisation. They are located in northern England in an area where unemployment is almost zero and the war for talent is raging. People do move for a few extra pence in their pockets but most will ultimately sacrifice this to be part of an organisation that cares for them, invests heavily in a people first culture and in their personal development. Every time I meet one of the board they have launched another new people initiative and their appetite for learning about new innovations etc... is insatiable. They certainly have a growth mindset in the board and are now driving it down the hierarchy and the transformation has been fantastic to watch. They are clear leaders in a very competitive market and continue to stretch boundaries in everything they do.
HR is being placed in the boardroom and is the central pivot to everything that happens. It is a refreshing take on HR and a long way from a pure policies and procedures approach.
Most executives today recognize the competitive advantage of talent, yet the talent practices their organizations use are vestiges of another era. They were designed for predictable environments, traditional ways of getting work done, and organizations where lines and boxes defined how people were managed. As work and organizations become more fluid—and business strategy comes to mean sensing and seizing new opportunities in a constantly changing environment, rather than planning for several years into a predictable future—companies must deploy talent in new ways. In fact, talent must lead strategy. That’s a radical departure from the past. Something this big is a job for the CEO. Simply put, reimagining and leading a people-first company cannot be delegated to anyone else in the organization.