How To Tell If Your People Strategy Is Working

Group of mixed age and race employees having a discussion

How To Tell If Your People Strategy Is Working

By Margaret Wilson, Tandem Partners & Ann Quinn, Quinn Strategy Group

It’s no secret that winning organizations have both a clear strategy and a cohesive team (what we call a People Strategy). After all, fast-paced organizations operating in dynamic environments know that building team cohesion and aligning teams around strategy is what enables them to dance circles around their competition.

Leaders within these types of organizations bring the strategy to life by communicating it widely, ensuring that everyone from the top executive to the newest employee understands it. They also help their team members become crystal clear on the team’s role in the strategy’s success and grow the team’s confidence in their ability to impact related outcomes through their work.

This process creates a shared language among the organization and team, as well as a framework for how to think and talk about aligning actions to achieve strategic goals.

Sounds ideal, right? But how can you tell if your people strategy is actually working?

In our work helping clients develop effective people strategies, we guide leaders to look for specific signs of success or failure. Here are four indicators you can monitor to keep your people strategy on track:

1 – Clarity

When people are aligned around strategy and pulling together toward goals, it indicates the team understands the strategy and how their role and work contributes to its success. To monitor clarity, regularly ask:

  • Can everyone on my team accurately describe the strategy and related goals?
  • Can each team member describe how they personally contribute to the strategy’s success?

The second question is perhaps more important because when team members know their personal contribution has value, they find more meaning in their work.

2 – Commitment

When your people strategy is working well, senior leaders not only support it but also drive its execution. To monitor senior leadership’s commitment, periodically ask:

  • Do senior leaders have their eyes on the big picture? Are they looking at the horizon to assess whether or not the organization is advancing toward goals?
  • Are senior leaders focused on supporting the team in day-to-day execution?

When senior leaders demonstrate a high level of commitment to both the end game and the steps to winning, team engagement and motivation skyrockets.

3 – Measurement

For a people strategy to be effective, clear metrics for success must be set, measured and communicated. To monitor this indicator, ask:

  • Have we set meaningful and measurable KPIs?
  • Are we actively measuring the team’s progress against these same KPIs?
  • Do team members know what KPIs matter and how they’re being measured?
  • Are we reporting progress toward KPIs back to the team?

When leaders lose sight of what progress looks like and how it’s being measured, or neglect to share important data, the team can lose its momentum and focus very quickly.

4 – Accountability

Beyond simply understanding KPIs and progress toward them, cohesive teams feel a high level of accountability to each other and for results. Leaders instill this feeling by establishing concrete accountability practices. Check in on team accountability by asking:

  • How do team members demonstrate their accountability to each other?
  • How do team members demonstrate their accountability for their individual results?
  • What signs of high job satisfaction among team members am I seeing?

If you can’t identify specific accountability actions taken by your team, their level of accountability may not be as high as it needs to be to sustain results. Accountability practices also factor into job satisfaction because these structures let team members know their work is recognized.

People strategy isn’t just about managing human resources – it’s the vital link between business strategy and the teams who move it forward. By keeping a close eye on clarity, commitment, measurement and accountability, you can assess the effectiveness of your strategy and make informed adjustments to keep people engaged, aligned and effectively driving the organization’s fundamental goals.