Prioritizing people and culture

Differentiate your company with a focus on what’s important

With all that has happened this year, people are re-evaluating their choices and realigning their actions in many aspects of their lives. With many of us spending a large portion of our time dedicated to our work, how we engage during this time is being assessed, too.

This may be why companies are increasing their commitment to their people with new roles and areas of focus. With this, I was asked to review and recommend candidates for a new position, VP of people, for a leading technology company. The role reported directly to the CEO, with the mission to engage, nurture and retain its people.

This role is intended to complement the work of the HR team with a focus on:

  • Creating opportunities to accelerate employees’ achievements
  • Fostering thought diversity beyond ethnic differences
  • Leading learning and development, with a focus on skills, succession and measurements

While searching for similar positions, additional responsibilities could include:

  • Leadership and management training
  • Leadership effectiveness and team-building
  • Culture and value alignment

The responsibility is not one-sided. Many people have recently shared that their workloads have increased this year, but the ability to work remotely has brought forward unexpected benefits. As people experience new ways to work, companies are being asked to provide alternative options.

Emerging themes include:

  • ■ Employees desire more flexible hours and/or situations.
  • ■ Organizations will need to support differences more seamlessly.
  • ■ Cultures and leaders will be measured more by their inclusiveness.

A leading headline for the 2020 Top Workplaces list was “Positive employee culture is a key to success,” from Top Workplaces 2020. With new roles emerging, such as chief learning officer, people manager, diversity councils leaders and human capital management, culture and people continue to be a business differentiator.

With the culture of an organization initiated from the top, leaders will replicate the actions they see from above. With this in mind, how does your organization value or prioritize its people?

The next level of impact will take additional awareness, training and leadership. Considerations include:

  • Start early. Most first-level managers are often promoted because they are great individual contributors, not because they are skilled at fostering talent. Consider how you are investing in the people/leaders who hold the keys to employee retention.
  • The insights are within. To enhance culture, encourage your people to share their ideas and suggestions. Provide confidential options and levels of recognition.
  • Contributions beyond level. Not everyone has the opportunity to lead, but many have experience, knowledge and insights to contribute and advance the overall goals. Don’t let your organizational chart define the value of the contribution.
  • Measure what matters. Talent is the differentiator for most businesses.  How you manage, evolve and inspire your people will gain as much traction as your executives prioritize and measure it.

This year’s events have created new opportunities for organizations and people to decide how they want to show up next and what they will prioritize.  How will you leverage this opportunity to enhance your culture and invest in your people?

JJ DiGeronimo is President  of Tech Savvy Women. JJ’s book, “Accelerate Your Impact: Action-Based Strategies to Pave Your Professional Path,” published by Smart Business Books, is available for purchase on Amazon. She is also the author of “The Working Woman’s GPS.”