I was running a strategy session with the executive leadership team of a FTSE-250 retailer last week when we started to discuss the role of ‘people’ as a strategic enabler. Business leaders often talk about the importance of people, argued one of the directors, but very few businesses are able to create an environment where its people have truly become a strategic asset.

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Our conversation focused on the critical success factors for increased engagement and performance and, as the discussion progressed, I drew the chart above, identifying three questions that people ask about their role in any organisation:

  1. Is this meaningful work?

    This includes whether the organisation, and its mission, is something people want to engage with, whether their role within the organisation provides them with the right level of challenge, and if other, like-minded people are also attracted to the business. Many innovative, fast-growing companies – Google, Amazon and Apple, for instance – attract people because they represent an organisation that has a culture of doing something that is leading-edge and meaningful.

  2. Can I make my mark?

    The second question focuses around whether people are able to use their strengths, have the elbow room and have the clear objectives that enables them to contribute fully to the mission of the organisation. In too many corporate organisations, the lack of elbow room and the profusion of policies and processes can inhibit people’s ability to contribute, which leaves them feeling frustrated.

  3. Will I develop and grow?

    The final question demands that you provide the development opportunities, the supportive feedback and the ability to further build your people’s strengths. During my meeting last week, it quickly became clear that a lack of growth opportunities was contributing to high levels of colleague turnover in certain areas of the business, and so the team has started to develop solutions in this area.

Critically, all three questions must lead to positive answers if you are to create an organisation where all your people continually deliver high performance and become a strategic asset of the business. Focusing on these three questions can help you cut through to the most important issues.

How well does your business rate on each of these three questions and how effectively are you helping your people become a strategic asset of your business?

© Stuart Cross 2016. All rights reserved.