an interview with Graeme Paxton, CEO and Founder of Caraffi

How to flip your workplace people strategies so they don’t flop

How many of us really know what makes great people strategies in the workplace? This question is worth asking because there seems to be some uncertainty around building a people strategy and the more commonly implemented tactical people strategies. Confused? We take a closer look with Graeme Paxton, CEO and Founder of Caraffi.

This blog is a quick spin through Paxton’s detailed interview on strategy building, entitled ‘How to create a people strategy for commercial success,’ which you can read in our Culture magazine here.

Right, let’s kick things off with the elephant in the room…

What’s up with HR’s PR?

HR is having something of an identity crisis.

How many times has HR rebranded itself in the last 20 years? From HR director to head of human resources, to chief people officer – and yet still, it doesn’t seem to have exactly found its brand. This does not imbue confidence at board level – where the CPOs rarely sit, and even more rarely still, get chosen as the CEO’s successor, which is concerning.

Uncomfortable reading though this is, the people function isn’t seen as strategic or commercial, leading to a loss of influence to the board. With Paxton’s 15+ years of consulting experience, this is what he has seen first-hand.

Why is this? Is the business world against them? Paxton doesn’t think so, nor does he believe their roles are considered less important. Let’s face it, companies need their CPOs to build people strategies that deliver – and for this, they need more clout.

According to PWC’s Pulse Survey last year, more than three-quarters of CEOs say that hiring and retaining talent is unquestionably their greatest pathway to growth – outweighing digital transformation investment and cutting costs. Therefore, the role of people leaders is critical to CEOs and the board.”

Graeme Paxton

This aside, the truth is, chief people officers, heads of human resources, and HR directors all seem to struggle with the same thing – how to articulate a people strategy so it is recognised as a business driver and not just seen as an HR tick box exercise. This is important for CPOs – and it’s important for strategic business growth.

Why EVP is the key to success

CPOs must understand the value of the employer value proposition (EVP) and own it in the same way as a CFO takes sole responsibility for the investor value proposition. Paxton warns that the EVP should never be outsourced, and all successful CPOs should prioritise its creation.

  • Where should a CPO start? Begin by considering these vital questions:
  • Why should people work in our organisation?
  • Why do they love our organisation/what do they dislike?
  • Do we have the talent density we require to achieve success?
  • Do we communicate well with our people?
  • Have we built the right environment for high performance?

The EVP greatly impacts culture going forward, so it’s important to get it right. CPOs need to recognise that if they want to be considered as a serious prospect for CEO, any measure of people function must align with the metrics for business performance.

You can find Paxton’s full breakdown of how to approach this here, in his full interview.

Building a people strategy that supports business performance

To create a people-led value proposition as a CPO, you need to know what your organisation is like to work in. When it comes to reporting about your organisation’s people function, CPOs need to do more than measure the service they offer if they want to be seen as more than just the back-office support service.

“To be considered as a strategic influence on any organisation you need to be a businessperson that knows a great deal about people, NOT an HR expert that knows a little about business.”

Graeme Paxton

CPOs need to generate metrics with impact. A successful people strategy must directly support commercial performance and provide clearly communicated and defined data points to validate its findings.

The full article provides a stage-by-stage plan on how to build your people strategy and measure its success against your organisation’s performance.

Unlocked: Culture

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