Time To Leverage Your Staff For Higher Productivity

By Doug Clute

In his business classic Good to Great, Jim Collins said: “Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” Famously Collins says you need to have the right people in the right seats on your bus.

In business, profits and shareholder returns can be linked to productivity growth, which can be directly linked to having great people. Productivity measures output per unit of input, such as labor, capital or any other resource – and is typically calculated for the economy as a whole, as a ratio of gross domestic product (GDP) to hours worked. Labor productivity may be further broken down by sector to examine trends in labor growth, wage levels and technological improvement.

A staffing plan makes sure you have the right people in the right spots at the right time.

A Staffing Plan Fit For A King

Have you ever tasted Original Hawaiian Sweet Bread?

The bakery that created this treat was founded in the 1950s in Hilo, Hawaii and later became known as King’s Hawaiian. In 1977 the company expanded and built its first mainland bakery in Torrance, California. Its vision was to become the biggest Hawaiian food company in the world.

To support their continued growth, in 2010 their strategy included building a new production facility. To better serve the East Coast they started construction on a third bakery facility in Oakwood, Georgia. This was a project that was estimated to take at least one year to complete. Initial staffing of the new facility would require hiring over one hundred new employees.

Well before construction began, a staffing plan was developed and implemented. The plan included headcount, timing, skills needed, and training required for each position.

Success was dependent on a lot of hard work by great people. Internal partnerships between operations and human resources, as well as relationships with local agencies and recruiting partners were key to its success.

The plant opened on schedule and within budget. Since then, the plant has been expanded several times and each time a staffing plan was one of the keys to success.

Staffing Linked To Productivity

Productivity is a measure of the efficiency of a company’s production process, This is calculated by measuring the number of units produced relative to employee labor hours or by measuring a company’s net sales relative to employee labor hours.

Most successful organizations have a strong understanding of their strategic direction. Mission and vision statements communicate who they are, what they do, and where they are going. Operational plans and budgets that lay out the organization’s periodic goals, objectives, and projects that are in support of the mission and vision.

But will they achieve the mission and vision without the right people? Even with a clear mission and vision, without the talent required to support this direction, organizations are unlikely to reach their full potential. Management journals contain many studies that have found that companies incorporating a staffing plan into their business are more likely to increase performance.

For many organizations – especially one that is growing quickly – the focus is often on things like improving or expanding products and services; increasing revenue; and acquiring new customers. These are the lifeblood of a successful growing business. However, if the workforce needed to support this growth is more of an afterthought, it can slow that growth and even jeopardize servicing existing customers.

The Six Steps Of Staff Planning

There are six steps included in the staff planning process: establishing goals, identifying influencers, surveying the current state, envisioning needs, conducting a gap analysis, and developing and executing a plan. Let’s examine each step:

One: Establishing Goals. This step should largely be completed through the operational planning process mentioned above. Having an accurate understanding of the periodic goals, objectives and projects the organization anticipates completing in the planning cycle is the foundation of successful staff planning.

Two: Identifying Influencers. What factors might influence the staffing plan? Influencers can be external or internal. They can be positive or negative. An influencer is anything that might affect the plan but is largely uncontrollable by the organization. This step can be completed with a brainstorming session to identify factors that need to be considered. What is the status of the local labor market? Are there any technology changes that will impact productivity? Are local competitors growing or laying off staff? Are there any facility constraints such as office space limitations?

Three: Surveying the Current State. What is the state of the organization’s current staff? What expertise does each staff member have? Are there employees who are likely to leave for personal reasons or retirement? What employees are likely to be promoted into different roles? Are there poor performers who may need to improve or be replaced? While this step includes a listing of headcount, the main objective is to create an inventory of skill sets, competencies, and availability of the current staff.

Four: Envisioning Future Needs. To reach the organizational goals and complete the projects identified in step one, what skills, competencies, and staffing will be required? It is best to complete this step with the mindset of building the staff from scratch. This will help identify requirements without being overly influenced by the current state. Will the goals and projects require new competencies? Will additional staff be needed? Will staffing need to change during the year? Would using contractors or outside expertise be a good fit to meet short term needs?

Five: Conducting a Gap Analysis. What is missing between the current state and projected needs to accomplish the organization’s goals? Is additional training needed? What would be the timing of any new training? Do you need to add staff? In what positions, when will they be needed, how long will it take to recruit and onboard? Are current staff in the correct roles, or would reassignment make better use of their skills.

Six: Developing and Implementing the Plan. With the insight and information developed through this process the organization can now build a plan to successfully support their goals and projects. Planning for needed training, recruitment of staff additions and backfilling departures, use of outside expertise, etc. This plan will include actions as well as timing. The ultimate impact the plan has on the organization is dependent on an effective implementation and follow up. Committing to periodic updates and review will keep the plan on pace.

Let The Process Flow

This overview references six separate steps in the process. In concept the process follows the logical thought flow. However, in practice steps may overlap. The staff planning process can include as few or as many individuals as needed. Staffing plans can be created in any format that is comfortable to the organization. What is important is that the plan includes the relevant information in a format that is easy to understand and actionable.

Here is a thought to guide the plan. In the words of Lawrence Bossidy of General Electric: “I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies.”

The right staffing plan improves the odds of succeeding on the bets you make on your people.

If you are open to a conversation about staffing planning and how our in-depth work style and personality assessment could help, please contact us at 310-453-6556, extension 403.

Doug Clute is a Senior Human Capital LCS Consultant with over 30 years of insight and expertise as a human capital management executive within four different industries on an international scale.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC Divisions

Testing Division provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, skills testing, domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication.

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Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2024

Seven Ways to Improve Your Employees’ Productivity

By Richard Hadden

[dropcaps type=”circle” color=”” background=””]E[/dropcaps]nough with management theory already! If the success of your business is to any degree labor-dependent, here are Men chasing timeseven actions you can take right now to make your people more productive, and enrich your bottom line.

  1. Test their focus. Do the people who work in your company know what’s really important to your business’s success? Are they pooling their collective energy in pursuit of those things? Here’s a way to find out. First, write down what you believe to be your company’s top three business priorities, right now. Put the piece of paper in your desk drawer. Then ask the next five employees you happen to bump into the same question: “What do you believe are our company’s top three business priorities, right now?” Use those exact words. Make sure they understand this is not a test. Whatever they tell you is correct, and there are no punishments or rewards connected. Check for consistency among themselves, and with your answers. If the answers are all exactly the same, let me know; I’d love to congratulate you. If they aren’t, you’d better get busy. As former NFL coach Jimmy Johnson once said, “Confused players aren’t very aggressive.”
  2. Do someone else’s job for a day. On a recent Southwest Airlines flight, I noticed a flight attendant slightly older than his colleagues. Turns out he was a pilot in disguise. That day, from coast to coast, he cheerfully went up and down the aisle dispensing peanuts, smiles, and a great attitude about the lessons learned from those he called “the people who really keep this plane in the air.”
  3. Give them a challenge to beat. Identify a major business challenge or opportunity in your company (declining sales, changing customer demands, new government regulations, emerging markets, excessive employee turnover, etc.), and invite non-management people to form a focus team to help you tackle the issue. Make sure the team takes ownership for finding solutions, and that they don’t waste time meeting for the sake of meeting. Emphasize that results, not activity, will be rewarded. Then reward them, with real money, in relation to the bottom line value of the results they produced.
  4. Prove your commitment to training. The next time an employee attends any kind of training, ask them ahead of time to be prepared to tell you three new concepts or skills they learned from it, and one thing they will begin doing differently as a result. Don’t approach it like a grilling, but emphasize the need to transform learning into performance, and your desire to support them in their development.
  5. Sit on the footlocker. Major General Melvin Zais, commander of the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam, once said in a speech to future officers, “If you’ll get out of your warm house, go down to the barracks and just sit on the footlocker…you don’t have to tell ’em they’re doing a great job. Just sit on the footlocker, talk to one or two soldiers and leave. They’ll know that you know that they’re working hard to make you look good.” Great leaders show up, especially when their people are having a tough time.
  6. Show people the fruits of their labor. Find a meaningful way to show people how the product they make, the service they support, or the work they do is actually used, and enjoyed, by your customers. One company we work with makes highly technical medical supplies. The work is tedious, painstaking, and, well, boring. What’s worse, peach treesemployees began questioning the importance of their work. And it is very important work. The plant manager started arranging tours of a nearby hospital, where the assembly workers could see their products at work, saving lives, and delivering drugs and pain relief to patients. The workers came back so excited that the office staff wanted to be a part of it too. Now everyone in the plant makes a couple of trips a year, reinforcing the message, “What we do here matters! A lot!”
  7. Write thank-you notes. The next time an employee does something she didn’t have to do, purely out of a sense of commitment to the team or the organization, write her a note. Get a note card and a pen and write it out by hand, even if your handwriting is lousy. Put the note in the envelope with her next paycheck. Make this a habit.

I have a friend who berates himself for spending too much time “getting ready to get ready.” I’d suggest you’re already ready. Just get out of your cool office and go do it!

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014

Richard Hadden, co-author of “Contented Cows Give Better Milk”, helps businesses improve their performance by virtue of having a focused, fired-up, and capably led workforce. Please visit

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, & our website:

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code” please go to