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Building People Strength across an Organization

Building People Strength across an Organization

While this may vary from one company to the next, when an Organization has more than say fifty employees, and certainly once this number is greater than a hundred, a more systematic approach to developing people is necessary. And being “systematic” here doesn’t mean computer software to manage employee hiring or development, or even one of the many market offerings that claim to help better manage people’s performance on the job or those with the greatest talent, for example. What systematic does mean however, is that the leaders should have a “joined-up” process in place which helps build or evolve the contribution of everyone in the organization over an extended time period (and not just on a project basis). In this article we therefore want to look at one model for thinking about what such a system or process could look like.

As the diagram at the top of this article indicates, developing people successfully within an organization can be usefully compared to progressively building a house (or what looks rather more like building a temple here). In this model, we therefore have to start with establishing firm foundations and the first building block here is Vision and Values.

Vison (which is often usefully combined with mission) is important because it establishes not only why the organization exists but where it is trying to get in the future. So often this is hidden from employees at lower levels of the organization and they are therefore far less able to see how their individual efforts are making a contribution to these “bigger-picture” aims. Similarly with values, an organization may well have overt or covert ideas about what is important in terms of behavior that employees at large should appreciate (or at least understand). This helps individuals to decide whether or not their values line up or conflict and for teams to then work towards making decisions which are more in general alignment with overall values.

Once our vision and values are clear and well disseminated, organizational, team and individual goals can be set with as much clarity and coordination as possible. Individual objectives or targets are still one of the most popular and successful ways to do this but these should be established not only one to one but so that teams can work together effectively to achieve some of the larger goals of the organization.

At this point, our house or temple building process as it relates to human resource development splits into two parallel and complimentary activities:

  • The first is how we acquire the right talent in the first place (both from outside the organization and when promoting people within it) and then ensuring that people are as engaged and aligned as possible (using as much coaching, training and other retention side tools and approaches as necessary).
  • The second is to specifically assess people’s contribution to the organization in career terms on an ongoing basis or what is often more commonly called talent management activities today so as to ensure that the best contributing people are moving in the right directions as much as possible (and that planned changes are actually implemented or what we call the people “game-plan” is fully actioned.

Both of these two “pillars” of activity are only possible by understanding what skills and knowledge are possible to do the work that is critical to the organization and then making sure that these are in place individually and in every team or department, through hiring, training and other talent development interventions.

Last but not least in this people strength building system (and shown as the roof on our temple at the top of this article) is the need to ensure that all leaders within the organization have well designed and varied development plans to help them better lead and manage. This should not be reserved for only the few so-called “high-potentials” but for every leader to ensure that they are working as closely in harmony with what the organization needs and expects as possible.

At face value, this may seem like a simple model and one that would not take a huge amount of effort to set up and implement. However, it is a rare organization that puts all of these building blocks in place and thereby reaps the full benefits that such a stable system can bring.

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About Dr. Jon Warner

Dr. Jon Warner is a prolific author, management consultant and executive coach with over 25 years experience. He has an MBA and a PhD in Organizational Psychology. Jon can be reached at

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One Comment

  1. Moahmed MahgoubNovember 17, 2014 at 8:19 am

    This is an excellent way of presenting your ideas. I particularly like your concept of building human capacity the same way you will build a house.
    I have envisioned the same when I worked on an “integrated human capacity building model” in 2008. The model is based on competencies (the foundation) and requires the organization to identify and spell out what it needs from developing its human capital- Frameworks Policies & Procedures (one the main pillar), then the building stones, then starting with assessment, profiling & recruitment (using competency based job descriptions and interviewing), followed by career planning (developing individual IDPs), to be followed by the performance development requirements (what it takes to success in the job), training and development (identification, planning, implementation & evaluation) and ending with a succession planning model. The second pillar in the model is political agenda & the strategic plans. The ceiling is the corporate structure. The foundation and the ceiling both feed into all the other components.
    Thank you for sharing your ideas.

About the Editor and Primary Author

Jon Warner

Jon Warner is an executive coach and management consultant and in the past has been a CEO in three very different companies. Read more

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