3 HR Challenges that Derail Every Strategic Plan

Written by | @stickybranding

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People are the achilles heel of strategic planning. Your best laid plans can be derailed by you and your team.

The heart of all businesses are people, but this is often overlooked in the strategic planning process. Developing a strategy is relatively easy, but implementing and achieving it is difficult because of the people gap.

There are 3 HR issues that derail every strategic plan.

1. The Wrong People

Having the wrong people on your team is like driving on bald tires. You can get to where you want to go, but you’re not very efficient. There’s lot of wasted hours micromanaging and supporting people who just don’t seem to pull their weight.

Building the right team is fundamental to achieving your strategic plans.

As Jim Collins famously wrote in Good to Great, “Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.”

2. Misaligned Priorities & Compensation Plans

Structural HR issues lie under the surface, but they can wreak havoc on your strategic plans.

A few years ago I worked with a product marketing team to turn around a failing brand. The product was losing over a percent of market share per month to its direct competitors. We had to turn things around quickly.

The marketing team developed a brilliant strategy, but it hit a wall with the sales team. The sales reps didn’t see the need to change their behaviors to adopt the new strategy, because they were achieving their quotas. This was a case of misaligned priorities.

The two departments had different objectives:

  • The marketing team was measured and rewarded on market share.
  • The sales team was measured and rewarded on budget.

The problem wasn’t resolved until the two departments’ compensation plans were aligned, and they were both working to the same objective.

3. The Inability for the Leader to Change

The ability for a business to grow is dependent on the ability of the leadership team to change.

Growth strategies derail when the CEO is unable to change to meet the requirements of the next level. For example, the CEO of a $10 million business has the leadership skills and habits to run a $10 million business. If he cannot develop the leadership habits to operate a $25 million business, the company won’t be able to break the $25 million revenue plateau.

No matter how good the strategy, a leader’s inability to evolve will derail the strategic plan.

All Strategies Depend on People

All great businesses are built by people — smart, ambitious, creative people. People like you and I that care deeply about the work we do and the brands we are growing.

It’s this insight that is so key to how you approach strategy. You and your team, and your ability to evolve, defines what you can achieve.

Put the HR questions at the forefront when developing your strategy:

  1. Who here is part of the team moving forward, and who has stopped growing and can’t keep up?
  2. Is everyone aligned, rewarded, and empowered to implement the strategy?
  3. Does the leadership team have the support and coaching they require to do what’s expected of them?