I’ve spent my entire career at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), most recently as a partner for 11 years where my client work was focused on risk management.
During that time, I have developed keen insights and instincts about risk; where to look, what to look for, how to assess findings and how to remediate weaknesses. There’s ample evidence clearly demonstrating that every organization has a critical risk to manage that’s often not treated with the same planning and diligence as other business risks. What is it? People!
I’ve never met a good leader that doesn’t realize how important people are to their organization’s success. It’s also easy to see how large of an investment is made in those people, in terms of salaries, bonuses, training, etc.
It’s further evident to good leaders how important it is to manage risks. I’m talking about risks like managing your reputation, assessing the competitive landscape, product/service quality, plant safety, meeting customer deadlines and investment risks, among others. We manage these risks because the alternative would end in certain death for the business. We control the risks we can, and we seek to understand the inherent risks that are beyond our control, thus allowing us to manage around them.
What’s puzzling is how often I see organizations and meet with leaders who don’t cultivate and fully control risks surrounding their investment in People. Across the lifecycle of an employee, and indeed a complete workforce, there are a myriad of People risks that need to be managed comprehensively and consistently in order to maximize the return on the very large investment being made regularly in this critical asset.
It’s amazing to me how often leaders tell me, that they know they are not hiring the right people, they can feel morale sagging, they are losing top performers to other companies, and the list goes on. They don’t admit this readily, since they instinctively want to say that they do just fine taking care of their people. It’s only after I prod them a bit to really think about the symptoms they see around the organization, that they can admit that perhaps they are not doing everything they should be.
Ask yourself the following questions about your employees, and be brutally honest in your thinking:
- Are you attracting and hiring the right people for each position?
- Are you rewarding positive behaviors in a variety of ways?
- Do your people feel valued and empowered? Are bad behaviors dealt with clearly and promptly?
- Is morale tested and reinvigorated periodically?
- Is there open communication throughout the organization at all levels?
- Are you employing a “command and control” approach in a time when such approaches are dying quickly?
- Are you identifying and developing your next leaders before they decide to look elsewhere?
- Is your performance evaluation process transparent, fair and treated with a proper level of sensitivity and mutual respect?
If your answer is no to any of these questions, it’s time to stop and devote some energy into remedying the situation. Your people strategy is a strategic and critical component of your current and future success and must be prioritized.
Is your organization at risk? Let me know in the comments below.