Tag Archives: Lauren Weivoda

Creating a Development-Focused Culture

March 23, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

As Baby Boomers retire, organizations are left wondering who will take their place. Identifying who has the potential to take, for example, the COO’s place in five years can be a daunting task, but it’s a very important one. When organizations don’t make a plan beforehand, they find themselves stuck when the COO decides to retire or, worse, leaves suddenly.

The first step toward transition is to identify the vision for the organization’s future. This serves as a guiding framework for planning future talent.

Then create a culture focused on employee development. When you build this, your employees will be better prepared to take the next step in their career and to help achieve the organization’s vision. Employees also appreciate companies that invest in their growth, so it’s a win-win.

Examine the gap between the talent you have and the talent you need. To identify the talent you need, determine which competencies are critical for your organization. Which competencies will move the organization forward and bolster the culture? Is strategic ability important? Is collaboration?

Identify the talent you have. Get to know your people and their strengths—as well as their opportunities for development. Consider using high-quality psychological and cognitive assessments, multi-rater feedback, and behavior-based interviews. Using multiple methods gives you a more complete and accurate view of your employees’ strengths and weaknesses. 

Provide feedback to your employees. Where do their strengths lie? What areas could they work on? Then help employees put together a development plan. Meet with them monthly to touch base on the plan and provide guidance and mentoring. You may also want to consider establishing coaching services. Coaching can facilitate self-awareness, behavior change, and skill-building.

Once you have started a development-focused culture, you can focus on the nuts and bolts of succession planning. Identify who is leaving and when, who (based on their assessment results as well as your knowledge of their skills and career interests) could step in for each individual (keeping in mind that it might be a different successor for each), and what will be needed to develop that potential successor to ensure their success when the time for transition comes. 

Remember that communication is imperative. Communicate the purpose behind development activities such as assessments, development plans, and coaching. Employees with this understanding will be more receptive. Also ensure that you fully communicate the organization’s vision for the future and employees’ place in it. Communicating this information will help employees better understand their path and build excitement around the vision.

Lauren Weivoda, M.A., is a​ ​human​ ​capital​ ​strategist​​ at Solve Consulting LLC.

This article was printed in the April/May 2018 edition of B2B.

Four Steps to Strategic Planning for Startups

January 19, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

One of the keys to starting a new business successfully is having a strategic plan in place. This helps companies determine their direction, plan for the future, identify opportunities, and anticipate issues. It also helps companies keep up with changing client needs and market trends, stay ahead of the competition, unite employees around a shared vision, and ultimately make better business decisions. Although a strategic plan is critical for business success, it can be difficult for new owners to know where to start.

Start with your vision. What do you want your company to be like three to five years from now? Be specific. What will you have achieved? What will your competitive advantage be? What will your culture be? How will people work together? How will your company treat customers? How will people communicate with one another? What markets will you have tapped into? How will people make decisions? What new services will you offer? How will people demonstrate accountability? What will your reputation be? How will other organizations and the surrounding community view your company?

Identify the roadblocks. They could be policies, procedures, attitudes, etc. Sometimes they are obvious, sometimes less so. Consider what issues exist for your new company. Limited startup capital? Hiring warm bodies instead of true talent? Unfocused marketing strategy? Outdated technology platforms? Inconsistent pricing model? Squirrel syndrome? Figure out what could get in the way of achieving your vision and write it down.

Identify your strategies. What actions will you take to destroy your roadblocks and achieve your vision? These strategies may be projects, initiatives, events, etc. For example, what will you do to overcome an unfocused marketing strategy and achieve brand recognition? Establish partnerships with recognized brands? Identify competitive differentiators? Generate strategies for each of your roadblocks and be as specific as possible.

Nail down the specifics of implementation. What strategies will you focus on in your first year? What specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, time-bound steps need to be taken? Who will do what and when? Divide your first year into quarters, and drill into the specifics of what will take place in each quarter to keep your plan moving forward. As you look at your overall plan, consider whether the timing seems feasible and whether anyone has too much on his or her plate. Prioritize and rearrange as necessary. Next, decide how you will hold yourself and others accountable to the plan. Schedule regular follow-up meetings, and review and revise your plan each year.

Startups face many risks, but some of them can be avoided through proper strategic planning. Regularly review and revise your plan to keep up with a fast-paced, ever-changing world.

Lauren Weivoda, M.A., is a​ ​human​ ​capital​ ​strategist​​ at Solve Consulting LLC.

This column was printed in the February/March 2018 edition of B2B.