What are your People Management Priorities for 2016?

The start of a new year prompts many of us to think about our goals and priorities for the year. Indeed, we’ll be working with the management teams of several of our established clients over the coming weeks to help them clarify their priorities, particularly in respect of their people management strategies.

Based on our recent work, here are a few common themes we expect to emerge (in no particular order):

1. Clarifying vision and strategy – Sure, a regular paypacket is a good “satisfier” for many, but to really optimise the efforts of your people it needs to be clear just where the team/business is heading, how you plan to get there and what role you are asking them to play in helping you get there. Ideally, formulation of vision and strategy will be a joint effort in order to encourage further “buy in”. Once you have a clear vision and strategy, be sure to review to ensure people-management practices are aligned (eg. if it’s part of the strategy to be number 1 in customer service, staff bonus/incentive plans shouldn’t be entirely about sales volume).

2. Building team leader/management capability – As a business grows, the impact of the owner/leader becomes less and less direct, and there becomes an increasing reliance upon team leaders and managers to “send the message” about where we are going, how we’re going to get there and ensuring it all happens. Putting the right people in place, equipping and managing them effectively to ensure they are individually capable and committed to the task will be critical. Another potential priority for many will be increasing the COLLECTIVE effectiveness of the management team. While managers can perform well at an individual level, they also need to be reasonably consistent and work cohesively together.

3. Managing performance – Effectively managing performance can be a real challenge for many. Despite it’s critical importance in terms of clarifying the standards/expectations required, determining individual goals, planning for their achievement and building a culture of accountability, it often doesn’t get the attention it deserves. In my experience, if there is a formal policy/system of review in place, it’s often either ignored or seen by line managers as a bureaucratic “tick a box” exercise that contributes little to workplace performance. If there’s not a policy/system in place, line managers may flounder about, not sure what to do, or use it as a reason for not doing anything. Sorting out how to effectively manage performance (formally and less formally), so that the considerable benefits can be realised, will be a priority for many.

4. Managing the risks associated with engaging others – Employing staff can be a risky business. For smaller businesses in particular, it may well be a priority this year to ensure they are effectively managing the associated risks. The key risks we see generally relate to:

  • Compliance with the Fair Work Act – understanding the coverage of modern awards, ensuring the provision of correct pay and leave entitlements, compliance with National Employment Standards, ensuring dismissals are managed in a way that minimises risks etc…
  • Compliance with the Work Health and Safety Act – adopting a proactive approach to workplace safety, consulting with others, providing information and training etc…
  • Compliance with other relevant legislation – payment of compulsory superannuation, holding workers’ compensation insurance, compliance with anti-discrimination legislation etc…
  • Succession planning and knowledge management – planning for expected and unforeseen temporary or permanent absences of key staff, for example.

How about you? What do you expect to be the key people management priorities for your business or your clients in 2016?