New Series: A People+People Plan to Accelerate Growth



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No matter the size or industry, companies need a strategic roadmap to achieve their growth goals. This couldn’t be truer for manufacturers. However, manufacturing leaders tend to focus only on operational plans and processes, more than they do on sales, marketing, employee retention, and recruitment. This can be a big miss when achieving your growth goals.

A People+People Plan is a foundation and activation strategy for scaling your organization. Employees and customers are the two critical factors to successfully growing. A People+People Plan is your roadmap to keeping a healthy pipeline of both. The Plan empowers your leadership team to align all departments on gaps and areas of improvement by focusing on the five pillars of any successful business. The five pillars are:

1. Operations

This is where it all starts. Everything can be improved with the right tools, process, technology, and people. You can do this on your own or leverage a business system methodology such as EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) to assist you - think of it as lean manufacturing for business operations! Whether you create SMART goals on your own or leverage a business system methodology such as EOS, the goal is to examine each pillar of your business, identify the gaps, and then align leadership on prioritizing goals. From there, develop a plan with the required tasks to fill the gaps as well as the estimated resources and hours to implement a solution. Beware of falling into the common trap of trying to do everything at once, and getting nothing done. Involve the entire team, so everyone feels they are contributing to the business’ health!

2. HR and Culture

With historically low unemployment rates, everyone is struggling to fill their talent pipeline and keep the shop floor running smoothly. Even if your sales are high, you may be challenged to fulfill orders and meet deadlines if you lack a strong talent pool.

Blue collar workers have heightened leverage in the current labor market. Experienced machinists are aging out of the workforce, and less experienced labor will change jobs for less than a dollar more elsewhere. To attract and retain top talent, build an employee experience that aligns your team around a joint purpose, mission, vision, and values. This is the “sticky” stuff that keeps people around when they are aligned with the organization’s overall purpose. Including employer branding in your marketing initiatives can help you find right-fit candidates who also connect with your organization’s vision. Showcasing the employee experience on your website, social media, and other content outlets as social proof as to why you are a “best place to work” is another great way to attract talent.

Next, identify gaps in your current labor pool by implementing a skills assessment. Then, plan a roadmap for filling the gaps through certification programs, career pathing, cross-training programs, and hiring for the right skillset. Develop your own “university” or training and development portal where employees are empowered to cross train, and your “secret sauce” is documented.

3. Finance

Playing by the numbers is critical to profitability. Knowing that people help support what they create financial transparency empowers your team to know the impact they have on the bottom line and provides them the tools and knowledge for their financial health, as well. The Great Game of Business (GGOB) methodology is a business operating system that engages everyone in an organization to think like an owner. It combines Open Book Management with the financial literacy training that empowers employees to take real ownership. Goal setting, forecasting, and budgeting are essential for each department to participate in and be accountable to consistently.

4. Sales and Marketing

Sales and marketing alignment is a challenge for all types of organizations. Established sales goals have to match up with defined opportunities to keep and grow current accounts, to determine what is realistically attainable in acquiring new business. Your marketing strategy needs to be aligned with meeting these sales goals. Efforts should be focused on targeting the markets where there is the greatest opportunity for growth.

An intentional content marketing strategy focused on each of your targeted buyer types is essential. When done well, this keeps a full pipeline of marketing qualified leads (MQLs). Sales require an infrastructure that leverages both prospecting and nurturing team along with tools like a CRM and marketing automation to capture, qualify, and nurture the top of the funnel leads while allowing sales specialists to focus on closest to close opportunities.

5. Technology

Often not a priority, your business technology stack can ultimately have the greatest impact on both the top and bottom line of your company. In each business pillar, there are opportunities to leverage technology for automation. While you might immediately think about automation in sales, marketing, and finance, there are also affordable human resource platforms, that can improve the candidate management experience, employee engagement, and professional development.


Building Your Own People+People Plan

To start building your People+People Plan, the leadership team should step through each of these pillars and identify the gaps that are holding your organization back from scaling. Determine what you can do in-house without impeding day-to-day activities and what you can’t. Consider evaluating outside resources that can support your goals. Investing in outside resources can be a big challenge for small to mid-market manufacturers. Think of this investment as not a quick win at the gambling boat, but a long-term investment in your portfolio strategy.

Be prepared that your People+People Plan is not a one and done. Just when we think we have something running smoothly a new challenge comes up. Not to fear - your People+People Plan can empower your team to overcome new obstacles and ensure long-term sustainability.

Now get out there and start building and executing on a People+People Plan that attracts, engages, and retains both employees and clients!