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Simple steps to unleash the people power in your business

By Valerie Todd, Chair of Investors in People and Talent and Resources Director for Crossrail Ltd

Through my work with Investors in People (IIP), I’ve seen many businesses become more competitive  by making simple changes to how they manage their employees. But how have they done it and can it really be that easy?

The hardest thing is often knowing where to start. For managers who juggle many competing priorities, it can be hard to find the time to focus on people processes. The solution is usually to keep it simple. In my experience, the most effective people development processes are easy to follow and clearly based on delivering results for your business. It’s all about getting the right people in the right jobs, with the right skills and attitudes to power your business forward.

Trinity Conferences is a great example of how sharpening your people processes can improve performance.  As a small, busy company, they recognised that it’s easy to spend every minute of the day fire-fighting. With help from IIP, Trinity Conferences  set out to ensure that all 23 of their staff could operate at the same level and respond quickly to new business opportunities.  They created new systems and processes for client communication, customer service and performance measurement.  Simple ideas made a big impact, such as having each employee visit 100 venues every year and report back on them.  In spite of the recession, turnover has increased by 27% year on year, and pre-bookings for the next two years are up by more than 30%.

A larger business, the construction company Beard, told how IIP helped them to engage  their employees positively with a clear impact on results.  Their new approach involved staff taking part in company strategy meetings, better internal communication and training in management and customer care . This contributed to sales growth, improved  customer skills and increased customer retention.  Since 2001, Beard’s turnover has grown from £18m to £46m* per annum, while maintaining a 20% return on shareholders’ capital.  The business has achieved this growth with the same core management team and only a small increase in staff.