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Evaluate Your Company’s Capabilities and Your People

In strategic planning, the first phase of identifying your strengths and weaknesses is looking at your capabilities or intangible assets (intangible means incapable of being realized or defined — not having physical presence). These assets point to why organizations are good or not good at identifying and leveraging people, culture, and knowledge.

By breaking down your capabilities into certain areas, you can start to define your strengths and weaknesses. After they’re defined, align them with the strategic direction you want to go. You need people with the skills and knowledge who are motivated and resourceful to make your strategic plan a reality. Otherwise, you just have a bunch of good ideas on a piece of paper.

How many times have you heard someone say, “Our employees are our most important asset”? And how often do you feel like your company (or any company for that matter) backs up that statement?

The time has come where big and small businesses alike no longer pay lip service to this statement. The trend is to spend more time and money on recruiting absolutely the best people. No matter how busy you are, not hiring anyone is better than hiring the wrong person.

After you have the right people on board, making sure that they’re in the right seats means they have the skills and abilities to do their jobs. Just hiring them without training and development is like buying a house and doing nothing to maintain or improve it. You’re letting your asset go to waste.

When you get the right people in the right seats, you want to keep them there. Nothing is more harmful and costly than losing good people — harmful because knowledge walks out the door and costly because you have to train someone else. So although hiring the best people is good, hiring the best people and making sure that they’re developed with the right skills and abilities is better.

Evaluate how well you do the following management tasks:

  • Hiring: Only you can answer whether your current hiring process yields good results. Every company has its own unique approach to evaluating potential employees — personality tests, rounds of interviews, special questions, and so on. No one way is superior to another. What really matters is getting the right people onboard. But a great way to see quick results in your company, if you’re having employee problems, is to hire slow and fire fast.

  • Developing: How effective is your training and development program? Do your employees have the best tools and work environment to do their jobs? You may have a formalized program, but, again, what really matters is that your employees are doing their best work and achieving their fullest potential. If employees really are your most important asset, you need to develop them to realize the full value of your investment.

    Training and development needs to be linked directly to improvement at work. Make sure that you’re training for the capabilities that your organization needs to move forward. For example, if you want to improve your productivity, send your employees to a time management workshop instead of a team-building ropes course. I’m constantly amazed at how many training programs aren’t linked to the overall strategy.

  • Retaining: The words employee retention hit most business owners in the gut. Managing people can be a hard concept for some people, and retention seems to be the perceived outcome of poor management (which isn’t necessarily the case because employees leave for numerous reasons unrelated to their jobs). Nevertheless, do you know the No. 1 reason people leave their jobs? Not feeling appreciated by their boss. Employees need to feel appreciated, challenged, and fairly rewarded to stick around.

    How’s your retention rate? Because you’ve invested a significant amount of time and money into your employees, retaining them becomes imperative. Otherwise, you let your most valued asset walk out the door.

Obviously, the outcome of not performing these management tasks well is a high turnover rate. However, you don’t want to wait until people leave to make improvements. You can evaluate these three areas by surveying employees, conducting exit interviews, bringing in an HR consultant, and monitoring overall employee satisfaction. To complete your view of your employees’ capabilities, include customer praises and complaints in your assessment.

GoDaddy.com, the number-one Internet domain registrar in the world, is known for putting its money where it really matters. No $5,000 office chairs or $10,000 conference tables. Founder Bob Parsons invests in the two assets that contribute to profitability: people and technology.

Although he focuses on keeping costs down, Parsons doesn’t scrimp on employee incentives. He gives away televisions, trips, motorcycles, a car, and even a year’s rent or mortgage. Why? Because as his call centers grow, he wants them to be a fun place to work. When his people are having fun, his customers are happy because they get to talk to happy employees. When his customers are happy, production and sales go up.

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