Seven Questions to Set Your People Strategy for 2020

New year, new decade  – the promise of achieving new levels of business success is both exciting and daunting. Whether your strategic business planning is complete or you’re just getting underway, including your talent strategy will be essential to creating the organization you need to take you into the future. Here are some key questions to help you take stock of your team – are you setting them up for success in 2020?

Here are seven questions to consider as you anticipate the year (and decade!) ahead:

What worked well in 2019? With so much on your plate, it can be too easy to ignore what you and your team accomplished last year. Think about the great hires you made, the team spirit that was shown when the going got tough, or the great new ideas your team put forward that made the difference to how your business performed. What went well can be small and significant or big and bold – all can be positive catalysts for the year ahead.

What did the last year teach you? Every leadership touchpoint can ‘teach’ us something if we’re open to the lessons offered. From how you communicated, delegated, problem-solved, or strategized, what insights, knowledge, or skills were gained or reinforced? It’s the soft skills acquired over time that equip you to meet the challenges we face – adaptability, resourcefulness, and resilience often develop incrementally. Our awareness of how we’re extracting meaning from our experiences can help us focus our strengths for a strong year ahead.

What needs to be left behind?  Self-limiting beliefs and behaviors (not giving feedback in a timely manner, withholding information, showing favorites, or not being accessible) don’t represent the best of us. Perhaps it’s time to shift to new ways of thinking and behaving and leave behind the responses that don’t serve us well. Traditional thinking about our people and what it takes to succeed can hold us and our organizations back when the pace of business and a diverse workforce demand a more open and transparent approach to getting work done.

How does your people strategy need to evolve in the year ahead? Think about the business challenges and opportunities currently in play. To get your team truly aligned, which of your people practices are due for recalibration or refresh? Need to do a better job attracting and hiring? Formalize how you onboard new people? Revisit your total compensation and rewards? Or does more thought need to be given to how you’ll develop your top players for even higher levels of contribution and engagement? Transition planning for those who may be anticipating moving on to their third chapter?

What are your top goals for your talent this year? Are all your team members aware of what they need to achieve individually and as a team? One of the most important contributors to job satisfaction and high performance is having clarity on expectations and how one can meet them. Setting expectations can be a collaborative effort, and is most successful when everyone understands and accepts the KPIs they need to reach. Other goals may include improving team productivity, cross-functional training, and knowledge sharing across functions and business units.

What’s your communication strategy? The strength of internal peer and management relationships are the heart and soul of your corporate culture. Connections are the glue that keep your team aligned, productive and focused. From the daily huddle, to team meetings, one-on-ones, and town hall forums, the commitment to authentically and transparently communicating will be the accelerator for your team’s success. Encouraging strong internal connections and the development of face-to-face networks will strengthen the fabric of your organization over the long term.  

How will you navigate the grey zone of ambiguity?  Every year brings surprises and events we hadn’t planned. How will you and your team respond to what could be disruptive change in the year ahead? That could be landing the biggest customer or deal your company has ever had, a senior management shuffle, or technology or regulatory changes you hadn’t anticipated. The communication and connection strategies you employ on a daily basis will go a long way to helping your team show adaptability and resilience in the face of challenging times.

Creating the most relevant talent strategies for the coming year requires thoughtfulness, planning, and true intent in how you proceed and communicate. What are your starting points for the year ahead?

Wondering what to tackle first and how to get started? Review the eight talent innovation touchpoints in my book Basic to Brilliant: The definitive guide to transforming your people practices. Available at all major online retailers. Learn more at