Well, you know by now that we are very committed to helping our clients create happy workplaces – but what is it that can make this a reality?

Well, clearly there are lots of things  –

  • Clear communication and approaches
  • Individuals feeling valued
  • Clarity of expectation
  • Honest and open culture
  • A focus on wellbeing
  • A level of autonomy
  • Trust to get on with things . . .

. . . would be some of the things that spring to mind – however, something that quite often gets missed or overlooked is the importance of the development of your people. And – to be clear, we’re not talking about the sheep-dip, ticking-the-box approach – rather, development which truly focuses on the individual and their needs.

Too often we expect everyone to be the same – and treat them as such. There’s a lot to be said for shifting this mindset though. Ask yourself – what are the strengths that this person brings to the team that no one else does? How could we help them to do even more of this? How could that have a positive impact on the team and our collective performance? Think of the image of a star: what more could be possible if you supported an individual to enhance their peaks? The things that they are naturally good at  – and enjoy? There isn’t much to be gained by flattening those peaks and encouraging people to be the same (think of that star becoming more of a circle); a focus on development areas alone can be draining for individuals – and reality, won’t have a massive impact on performance levels. More on this later.

As a leader, there is great benefit in surrounding yourself with people who think differently from you – who can challenge you and fill in the gaps where you might have a blind spot. As a leader, you will naturally have your own lens on the world and preferences around the way you work – as a result, it’s useful to ask: what might I be missing? And who in my team might be able to give me a different perspective?

What about the people in your team that are responsible for other people – i.e your leaders and managers? What do you do to invest in these populations? Or, indeed, yourself?

There’s no doubt about it – the landscape for leaders has shifted significantly in recent years. Our view of what makes a great leader has been turned on its head; for example, no longer do we look to leaders to have all the answers – instead, a leader who can look to their team to help drive ideas and solutions is one that will inevitably build a healthy level of trust and autonomy (vital we know, for true engagement). But how do you go about this? Have you ever taken the time to outline the leadership qualities that are important to your organisation? Why do they matter and how can you ensure that your leaders are aligned and willing to hold themselves to account around these things?

It’s not easy. Often, these are the questions that fall to the bottom of the pile when the pressure’s on and things get busy – we get it. Here, at The HR Consultants, we like to challenge our clients (and ourselves!) around this mindset and ask instead: what’s the risk of not investing the time in these areas? And the truth is, there could be a huge cost. Let’s face it – your people are your biggest asset – and probably your most expensive resource. We know that more and more, employees are wanting to make a difference – and are adamant that they need to see the impact their work is having. For the vast majority, it’s no longer just about turning up to do a job any more.

When talking to both existing and prospective clients recently, one thing is very clear; there is a real intent to do more for people – to understand what’s important to them and how the organisation can support people to really stretch their performance (and, most importantly – for them to feel good about the work they are doing).

Whether it be in a coaching relationship or through a leadership development programme – we are clear about the benefits of coming at things from a strengths-based perspective. Asking – what are we already great at? How could we get even better?

Coming at things from this angle is so more energising and engaging than focusing purely on the things that you aren’t naturally good at. Sure, you need to do enough so that these areas don’t trip you up – but, be warned – spending all of your time in this area will only serve to drain and demotivate you. It won’t have a vast impact on performance either.

Time to flip the traditional ‘development plan’ on its head and ask instead – how could I maximise the things I already have a talent for? What else could be possible if I allowed myself to bring more of ‘that’ to work?

The team sessions that we run aim to get to the real heart of what’s going on – so that effective and engaging ways of working (and ‘being’) can be established. Getting each team member, for example, to talk about what they need from others – and what they, in turn, commit to bringing to the team, can be totally enlightening and change ways of working for the better. Sometimes you need an external person to help bring this stuff to the surface – an independent facilitator – who can provide both support and challenge to propel your people – and, ultimately, your business – forward.

With such a tough recruitment market at the moment (candidates have choices!) – what you stand for as an organisation and to what extent you value and invest in your people will be a true differentiator. What does your approach say about you as an organisation?

We LOVE to support our clients with all things ‘development’ and would love to talk to you about what’s happening in your organisation at the moment. Get in touch! We really are a pretty friendly bunch – and, remember – it’s our absolute mission to help clients create places where their people love to work!