Building Your People Plan Like You Would Your Business Plan

by | Nov 23, 2020 | People

I work with entrepreneurial businesses every day, and I’m continually impressed with their strategies and visions for growth.  They are clear about their customers and how they’ll compete, and they have solid ideas about where they’ll want to invest in capital and equipment to fuel their growth.  However, what I often see is that their plan for talent hasn’t received this same attention.

Hiring and retaining the right talent for your organization can be every bit as difficult as winning new customers, and it deserves a solid plan.  Here are some tips for developing your people plan.

Know the candidate market:

Understand the candidate market in your area, including availability, competition, and candidate expectations (both monetary and non-monetary). If you feel you are at a disadvantage to attract and retain the talent you need, you may have some heavy lifting to do to improve your position.  Talk to prospective candidates and learn what is most important to them and then prioritize and invest in areas to improve.

Build a people model:

Consider the ROI on filling a key role and how that right person will help you meet your goals and objectives.  Merge your budget of projected growth with a pragmatic turnover rate.  Be realistic about the number of people that you will lose each year due to resignations (more common with younger workers), seasonality or operational constraints, aging workforce and those approaching retirement.   

Build your internal pipeline:

Build a culture where recruitment is everyone’s job. Referral bonuses, and an internal applicant tracking system to build your own database of talent are must-haves.  You can’t be too small to use these services and thankfully, there are new, low-cost platforms designed specifically for smaller companies. 

Balance the desire to hire the perfect person vs lost opportunity costs:

It’s about balance when making a selection decision.  A wrong hire can be very harmful, but there is also a lost opportunity costs when a position is not filled.   Develop a list of the business behaviors that are non-negotiable with all hires.  Of course, this means that they absolutely have to fit your culture and values but also look at those key traits that align with your plan such as grit, determination, resiliency, being highly accountable, etc.

Invest in development:

Development is essential for employee retention and performance, and it makes good financial sense.  You want to avoid the vicious cycle of claiming that it’s not worth it to invest in training because the people are just going to leave anyway.  That kind of thinking is a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Build training and development into the plans for hiring so your people choose to stay because they see that you are investing in them and they feel valued.

Define the Moments That Matter for retention:

How do you retain your employees?   Define the ‘moments that matter’ across the employee lifecycle. What is MOST important to YOUR people.  This could include the interviewing and onboarding processes, training and development, promotion opportunities, pay, recognition, alignment with the company vision, or community engagement.  You won’t be able to focus on all of them.  What is most important to them?  Ask your people.  Listen to what they say.


There is a battle being waged for great people, and it has raised the hiring and retention of people to a strategic level.  A comprehensive people plan will help to ensure that you have the talent that you need to achieve your goals.  

About the Author: Mary Nutting is the Owner & President of CorTalent, a national recruitment and retention consulting firm.  Mary helps growing companies find, select and retain top talent with an emphasis on culture and values fit.  CorTalent’s services include search, hourly recruitment support, talent assessments, and retention strategies.  Mary can be reached at 952-270-5423,, and LinkedIn