Why it is so important to develop our people, often before tackling any business issues.

Packed full of practical advice, anecdotes and good humour from the serial entrepreneur that is James Howells. He explains why it is so important to develop business AND people. Turning Factor are hugely experienced in the field of leadership, training and business development.

Here’s a summary of a recent podcast recorded with James and you can listen to the real thing here:

“The company works on two areas, making sure the business is going in the right direction and at the same time, developing their people.

I head up the business development side. My colleague Katherine, she heads up the people development side. We work both hand in hand because if you’re going to achieve your goals or your vision, your strategy, your business, without people it’s a pretty hard thing to do!

You’ve got to develop your people to work alongside your plans. We strongly believe that certainly, and unfortunately we often devalue people in this country.

We deal with people’s behaviour. I would say it’s no different to going to a doctor. You don’t walk through the door and they immediately offer a diagnosis! We actually ask questions and really try to get under the belly of an organisation or a problem.

A good example. We will get told maybe from the board, the problem is this and the solution is this, and we want you to deliver the solution. And it’s very, very easy to say, okay, great. Yeah, I think you’re right. That sounds brilliant. And go off and do it.

Well, the problem with that’s a bit sheep dip. It’s like a solution for everything. So what will we say is no, or hold it, if it’s that obvious, you’ve probably already done it.

It’s a bit like a jigsaw puzzle.

People really, really, really appreciate continuous learning and development

Development is a cost which people tend to discard, especially when times get tough. The key to me is when times get tough, that’s when you need to be investing. And if you want to keep good staff what people really, really, really appreciate is continuous learning and development.

We did some work in the Cambridge science park and what someone told me was we don’t have staff anymore. We have volunteers really. And that’s really interesting. He said, any one of my staff or volunteers can walk out my door and go no more than 20, 30 yards and get another job. Probably paid more than we pay them. So it’s important that we think if we want to get the best out of our people, it’s not just about the pay anymore and it’s not just about their welfare.

It’s about actually finding what they want.

To be competitive we’ve got to have a culture where people will want to come and work

People think we keep a member staff because we pay really well. I always say this is why people will put up with bad business environment. If your paying really well then you might be able to treat them really badly!

The biggest thing is the war for talent. Actually what’s going to grow your business the most is having the best people. Making sure you look after the best people because if you don’t look after them, someone else will.

People say, you can’t manage business without process. Yes, I totally understand that. But the fact of the matter is if you can’t have your business solely relying on process.  I’ve seen some engineering businesses that you can eat off the floor. They’re saying we’ve got the latest technology and look, aren’t we smart.

We’ve got a process and it’s absolutely wonderful and we’re doing well. But now our competitor has come up with an even a better system and we’re struggling. We’re really struggling to get our people to deliver.

So it’s the people that are wrong. And, we use the general question how have you engaged your people into your processes? Have they been part of the design?

If you’ve got trust in an organisation, you could argue you don’t need so much process

We trust people. We don’t need process. So if you want a very effective business, it’s about trust. It’s about we do what we say we’re going to do and when we’re going to deliver, we do that.

And if you really want to drive success in our opinion, you’ve got to actually invest in the people. If you invest in the people, they will drive your profits.

If you don’t invest in people, surprise, surprise, you’ll just carry on being the same as you were and all the pressure then comes on you as the owners of the business.”

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