People follow people. And people invest in people. Based on our own experience, we know that investors have to be convinced not only by the product but above all by the founding team. A product will most likely change because the needs of the customers change, new technologies come onto the market, or something completely unexpected – let’s say a pandemic – turns the corner and forces the founders to reinvent their business model from the ground up. The deciding factor then is that the team is willing and able to shape this change in the company’s best interests. Start-ups and established companies alike share this requirement. After all, in recent years, almost all organizations have had to learn to deal with a constantly evolving world, at least since the Corona pandemic. In concrete terms, this means equipping their employees with suitable skills and tools so they can operate competently and confidently under continuously changing conditions.
The environment cannot be planned, the surroundings can
It is close to impossible to anticipate and plan for developments that influence a company from the outside. But it is up to the organizations to create an environment in which even major changes are manageable for as many employees as possible. On the one hand, this is characterized by core values for collaboration in the workforce, but also by working methods, learning opportunities and tools that enable the highest level of self-efficacy for the individual. Shaping such an environment is, in turn, eminently plannable and a strategically important part of contemporary entrepreneurship. Because good, empathetic employee management is not something that can be done on the side. It requires precisely tailored processes and tools at key points so that (potential) employees have the opportunity to actively contribute to the organization according to their talents and abilities, and to have their ideas and concerns heard from the start.
Designing the Talent Experience with the “People Canvas”
Regarding employees as customers – in many industries, this perspective is becoming increasingly important, not just because of the shortage of skilled workers. So it makes sense to take the essential elements of the business model and consider the extent to which they can also be helpful internally, for example in shaping the talent experience within the company. In the start-up scene, the Business Model Canvas has replaced the classic business plan in recent years, partly because it is better suited to developing ideas in exchange with others. If this is converted into a “people canvas,” interesting questions arise, the answers to which can be helpful to companies in their strategic workforce planning:
- Value Proposition: Which problem does the company want to solve for the employees? How do they want to create a benefit for them? What should (potential) employees be able to do better, faster, easier, more joyfully with new offers and products?
- Customer Segments: Who does HR want to address with new offers and products? For example, candidates (Candidate Experience), employees (Employee Experience), HR staff (Recruiter Experience), managers (Manager Experience), etc. What are the needs of the different target groups?
- Key Activities: What does the company need to do to create the value described in point 1? – This can be cultural changes, such as breaking down rigid hierarchies, but also specific processes, such as regularly obtaining feedback or providing every employee with a smartphone with access to the internal talent marketplace.
- Key Resources: What does the organization need to make these innovations possible? – This can range from people who fill certain roles to resources such as know-how, data, technology, capital, etc.
- Customer Relationships: How do we deal with customers (= (future) employees)? This overarching question leads to many others that can be answered with the help of the People Canvas, such as “How do we communicate with each other?” or “How do we give feedback?” or “How do we welcome new colleagues on their first day at the company?”
- Channels: Even the best measures are useless if employees don’t know about them, don’t understand them, or can’t handle them. Therefore it is worthwhile to continuously examine which channels are used to communicate internally (for existing employees) and externally (for candidates). A company blog, podcast, weekly jour fixes, stand-ups, Slack channels, chatbots, etc. – the possibilities are endless. What matters is that they are used sensibly and with the best possible experience for (future) employees in mind.
The company as a sounding board
A good talent experience is largely based on people not only consuming information that they receive from the company but proactively contributing their ideas and wishes. Where the ideas of (future) employees meet a sounding board, is where the success of companies is created: exchange, creativity, a connection of the familiar with the new, personal and professional growth, productivity and happiness. With this in mind, a “People Plan” can also be understood as a kind of “circuit diagram” on which the many resonance cells of an organization are located. This way, companies ensure that there are points of contact for the diverse interests and wishes in relation to the organization and that no line of communication is unintentionally disconnected. Such a plan forms the basis for:
- seeing and being seen by people interested in the company: For example, a chatbot on the company’s job board directs potential applicants to the right job offer.
- emotional resonance for people with a connection to the company: This means that there are physical points of contact and tools in the organization to connect to others, get to know colleagues, get support, etc.
- people in the company acting together: Ideally, employees have the chance to initiate their development and that of the organization, for example with the help of digital learning and networking tools.
Knowing that the people who are in any way connected to a company can always find the information or the person they need to do their job well, thus being better able to fill out their role, makes success much more likely than a business plan that was worked out to the last detail.