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Modern Manager: Develop a People Strategy

You’re probably familiar with the terms business strategy or product strategy, but what about people strategy? Shouldn’t we be as thoughtful about how we approach expanding our teams as we are with how we grow organizations and develop new products?

In this episode of The Modern Manager podcast, the host Mamie Kanfer Stewart interviews Andrew Bartlow, founder, and managing partner at Series B Consulting. Andrew has 25 years of Human Resources and Talent Management experience at organizations across a wide spectrum of sizes, maturity stages, and industries. He is the co-author of “Scaling for Success: People Priorities for High Growth Organizations,” has a master’s degree from the top program in his field, and has been CECP, SPHR, Six Sigma, and executive coaching certified.

Andrew and Mamie talk about how to develop a people strategy - how to prioritize the most important work and focus your team structure and roles on doing that work so you’re investing in the right people doing the right activities at the right time in the organization’s life cycle. As a guest bonus, members of the Modern Manager community can get a free 25-minute “coach-sulting” session with Andrew to get advice and recommendations on your people strategy, scaling, or culture development. To be eligible, you must be a member - join the Modern Manager community today. Subscribe to the Modern Manager newsletter to get podcast episodes, articles and free mini-guides delivered to your inbox. Read the related blog article: Align Your People With Your Priorities. KEEP UP WITH ANDREW Website: LinkedIn: Book: Scaling for Success: People Priorities for High-Growth Organizations Key Takeaways:

  • Your team needs to ruthlessly prioritize their top three goals that will make the biggest impact. You can move three things a mile or thirty things an inch.

  • Like a waterfall, your team’s actions, culture, and hiring processes should all flow from those top three goals.

  • To determine the highest priorities, use a (1) bottom-up approach to decide as a team the top three things to move your organization forward or (2) a top-down approach where you decide the top three goals on your own and invite your team to ask questions and raise concerns until everyone is on the same page.

  • If someone, including you, want to add another goal, negotiate what to remove.

  • Check in with your critical stakeholders e.g. senior management, other departments or investors, to make sure they are in agreement about the top three goals.

  • Hire and add new roles in alignment with your goals. Consider if it’s possible to promote from within, especially if you invest in a bit of professional development, or if you need to hire from the outside.

  • Use a portfolio approach of sometimes hiring from within and sometimes from without. If you always hire from without, you will discourage your team by not providing growth or advancement opportunities. If you always hire from within, you may not get the talent you need.

  • Resist promoting just because someone has been there the longest. Don’t stick with your team just because it’s comfortable. As the needs for various roles change, be transparent while also treating people with generosity.

  • Pay attention to the spans and layers your structure is creating. A span is the number of direct reports a manager has. Layers are the number of managers managing managers.

  • A manager can handle a span of up to 20 in simple, similar roles and a span of 4-6 when dealing with more complicated, diverse roles.

  • More layers make communication, efficiency, and connection more challenging. Each manager needs to find the “Goldilocks” level of spans and layers that works for them.

Additional Resources:

  • Patrick Lencioni - 6 Critical Questions


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