We’ve all heard the proverb:

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now”.

When it comes to people and talent management, the last two years have felt like a lot of “the best time is now” moments.

And they’ve all taken different shapes: from burnout to team members stretched too thin. Adapting to selling and supporting customers remotely to trying to stay engaged throughout the Great Reshuffle.

Now, as we face more market changes, and potential pauses on hiring in a still-tight job market, those responsible for the people and the business are likely having their heads spin.

And that’s because leading the people who make up a revenue organization–from sellers to account managers, pre-sales engineers and channel managers to operations pros and enablement specialists–is a tall order. You’re trying to:

  • Hire and onboard talent to keep up with growth and your goals
  • Level up and help your team achieve best-in-class performance
  • Build and ramp new types of teams and roles

Investing in your people typically falls into one of those buckets:

  1. Hiring
  2. Producing
  3. Change management / innovation

Leaders will take a look at current market conditions, how close to or short of goals they are for the year as they look out to the second half of the year, and make some decisions.

Some will pull back on hiring.

Others will make changes to structure, focus and team priorities.

The best?

Regardless of the choices above, they’ll make sure that investing in and enabling the team members that are already in your organization is a core part of the plan to survive and thrive.

Why invest in your people

Whether they are brand-new from recent hiring pushes or veterans at your organization, those that you have today are the ones best setup to help you continue to grow. You’ve already trained them on your product or service, they know how to sell in the rapidly growing and shifting market that came right before this and they have the shorthand and context for what your solution offers to the market. They’ll also have the unique perspective of seeing the selling motion shift in real-time.

Your current team is also the easiest to re-contextualize and train to fill gaps. You don’t have to pivot and train a new team of “lean-time” sellers on what your product or service does. And you already know the competencies, motivations and habits of those that are already in-seat.

Re-investing in your current team is cost-effective and more productive than starts and stops in having a fully staffed team.

As long as they’re deployed correctly and properly supported.

Your current team has the unique perspective of seeing the selling motion shift in real-time.

Investing in your people today is the best way to retain and keep them engaged during the hard times. There are a lot of theories about why people leave jobs, what’s caused the Great Reshuffle, but the most obvious thing we can do is make people feel valued and cared for.

What people investment should look like right now

Your current teams see the ins and outs of the macro environment just as much as you do. So, they likely know that growth may be more uncertain and the momentum that your business had may not look the same

You may need them to be operating on a different level, with a different sense of focus and urgency.

So, help them do that.

My colleague Christina wrote about how to clarify and hone your strategy and Brad wrote about how to check your metrics in a downturn.

I’d propose the people side of a more focused, impactful strategy to address the next phase of the market.

If your strategy is right, your tools and systems are working properly … your people investment needs to include:

  • A re-clarification of what high performance looks like: most people want to know what it looks and feels like to be successful. It’s how they gauge their progress
  • A re-investment in team training: that doesn’t automatically mean buying new off-the-shelf training programs or complicated systems for your teams to implement. It does mean, however, identifying the gaps that your team has (see bullet above) and helping them to close those gaps

Your teams want to be successful. And seeing you invest in helping them get there will lead to better outcomes.

  • A more people-centric approach: your revenue org is made up of the people and the processes through which they get work done. And it’s easy to forget that behind those systems are more people. So, whether your enablement team has been front and center for your producers or been relegated to a more operational role in the past … now’s the time to include them in the long-term strategy.

What makes up a strong enablement team

Probably not a surprise … I believe that your people are best served by having a strong enablement function. So, whether it’s a sales leader doing enablement “on the side” or a team of many, there are a few things that your Enablement function will need – and need to do – in order to be successful and help the teams they support thrive.

A strong enablement team has a:

  • True understanding of stakeholder’s needs: from their motivations and pain points to what actually makes up their day to day, enablement folks need to have a clear understanding of how the team can be best served and help accomplish business goals
  • Knack for effective prioritization and project management: the business asks a lot of different things of its customer-facing teams. Enablement professionals with strong prioritization chops can be the ones to vet, scope, and prioritize who should do what, and when.
  • Creative- and solutions-oriented mindset: you may know what needs to be done, but how to get it done with your unique team is another story. Your enablement function should be the creative minds that can turn ideas into execution.
  • Results-centric approach to enablement: from developing learning objectives to prioritizing the mode and the medium of the training and resources they provide to your teams, strong enablement pros will look at comprehension, behavior change, and results as their focus, not just completion rates and items checked off a list.
  • Bias for action: straightforward, right? There’s a lot to do, enablement pros will want to put ideas into practice, thoughtfully and purposefully.

That’s just a few. There are others.

As market forces and employee engagement changes continue to come your way, check the instinct to cut support for the ones who are there doing the work today. And if you invest in the tools, learning and enablement that makes them successful, they’ll weather whatever proverbial storm is coming your way.

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