Ultimate Guide to People Management & Workforce Planning

As businesses navigate through the second year of challenges and uncertainty, it is more important than ever to ensure that people professionals are consistently progressing their people management skills. Whether your business is product or service-based, we need to be mindful of the support and leadership we offer our team. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) emphasises the importance of aligning your organisation’s business strategy and objectives with your people strategy. 

This is known as workforce planning which is a key element to the role of people professionals. So before reading this guide, ask yourself:

  • What are your organisation’s growth plans?
  • What is the correct strategy to get you there?
  • Do you have the people skills already in place or do you need to develop this? Alternatively, do you need to consider the financial aspect of recruitment to support this strategy?

After considering these points, let’s now remind ourselves of some of the important people management skills we need to be aware of, in order to support your people strategy.

The Ability to Lead Through Change

Given the rollercoaster ride that the past two years have been, I think starting with change leadership makes the most logical sense. Not only have we experienced change outside of the workplace, but most businesses will also have experienced change internally within their organisation.

This could have occurred either as a direct result of the aforementioned global changes or it could have also resulted through natural business progression. As an example, our team at Embryo have had to deal with both. Due to the external global changes, we have transitioned from being a full-time, office-based company to a much more flexible hybrid based business.

This allows our team members to have the time to work from the office as well as in the comfort of their own homes. On top of this, we have also experienced an internal transition phase for the business whereby we have recruited two key roles to help us progress to the next level. In September we welcomed a new Strategy Director and Client Services Director in order to help align our business strategy across all of our departments, therefore enhancing our service offering for our clients as well as impacting the development of our people. To be able to support your employees through change, it is important to ensure that they have the skillset to support their own team members and departments through this. Arrange a meeting with your leadership team and discuss the transition phase with them, explain how this will contribute towards the business strategy, and allow the team to ask questions. This way they will be able to demonstrate the same procedure within their own department.

Assertiveness & Communication

If you ask people for their definition of ‘assertiveness’ it is quite surprising how many people think that this is simply having the ability to ‘be rude/aggressive/abrupt/saying it how it is.’ 

In actual fact, assertiveness is about finding balance and communicating with people in an understanding way by listening to all opinions and coming up with a conclusion together. This is a really important skill to have for everyone, not just people managers. For most people, being assertive doesn’t come naturally, it takes a lot of practice and quite a lot of tough conversations to be able to feel completely comfortable with it.

The important thing to remember is to ensure people feel listened to, show that you understand their point of view by using sentences such as ‘’I completely appreciate your point of view in relation to ‘XYZ’. I think it might be worthwhile to also consider ‘XYZ’. Do you think we could perhaps come up with a solution that supports both approaches?” This is a really professional and mature way of working through handling difficult conversations. Communication is more important than ever within a hybrid workplace, as you will rarely have all employees in the office together at once. Be sure to keep your organisation aware of any company updates that will have an impact on them and their roles. Not only will this help employees to feel valued but it may also enhance a positive working culture.

Goals & Objectives

As I mentioned earlier, workforce planning is about ensuring that your people strategy is aligned with your business strategy. In order to be able to successfully work together, it is important to identify what areas of development are needed within your people strategy. By setting regular 1-1’s with your team members, together you can set clear and achievable objectives that support the growth and development of your people. By regularly focusing and supporting this, it should have a positive impact on the ability to achieve the overall business goal. A good activity to start with would be the following:

  1. Identify where you want your business to be in 3-5 years.
  2. Assess the factors that will allow you to get there.
  3. Communicate the business’s growth vision to the team.
  4. Within your team 1-1’s, discuss and set appropriate objectives for them to work towards. Ensure these are realistic and achievable. SMART is a common model to use when setting goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-frame).

Technology in the Workplace

The use of technology in the workplace has increased significantly since people have started to work remotely. It is therefore important to understand the impact this can have on the workforce. Digital technology is now a key method of communication with our clients and team members with the increasing usage of platforms such as Zoom and Google hangouts.

Organisations are also encouraging smarter ways of working by implementing automation tools to help enhance workplace productivity. People professionals should therefore be consistently aware of the technological advances available to them within their industry in order to keep their organisation ahead of the curve.

There are a number of other aspects to consider as we aim to progress our people and ultimately our businesses. Above, I have provided a guide to some of the current trending factors that all people professionals, leaders, managers and business owners should be considering in order to successfully grow and achieve their goals. Understanding that people strategy and business strategy go hand in hand is the first step.

If you would like to get in touch with Embryo and discuss the digital marketing services that we can provide to help contribute to your business strategy then get in touch today and we will be happy to help. 


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