Applying Marathon Thinking to People Strategy


Not long now till the London Marathon.  I am totally in awe of the dedication and purpose of the 40,000+ runners. I shall be there in spirit of course, cheering them all on. From my sofa. With a hot chocolate. And popcorn.

Preparation means months of meticulous planning and diligent training to get into peak condition as well as a the all important precise plan for the race itself, so they get the best results from all that hard work on the day. It is a brilliant example of planning and strategy in practice, and you can be sure that no runner completes the race alone. A successful marathon run is most likely the consequence of a bigger network of human support than just the actual runner, such as supportive family and friends, sponsors, nutritionists, health professionals, fitness coaches, fellow runners….and the list goes on. Ultimately, those runners with the best support strategy are most likely to achieve their objectives from the race. Together is best.

So, how can you apply this ‘Marathon’ thinking to help you meet your business and people objectives? Here are my top 5 priorities for implementing a winning HR strategy for your business:


  1. Implement Legal Employment Practices

Ensuring a business’s employment practices are legally sound is critical for small business owners. In order to reduce the likelihood of unnecessary liability or risk, small business owners must understand the basics of employment law and how to effectively implement it into their employment practices. To ensure employment policies and procedures are legally sound, it is highly recommended to consult a legal specialist or an HR professional when drafting an employee handbook or employment contracts for example.

  1. Improve Employee Engagement

Since a company’s human capital is its greatest asset, it is critical to ensure employees are engaged with the company and their position. The potential benefits of increasing employee engagement include increased productivity, improved morale, a sense of organisational commitment, enhanced motivation and a desire to advance within the company. There are many monetary and non-monetary ways to improve employee engagement, and whichever one a company chooses should align with its mission, goals, and available resources.

  1. A competitive reward strategy

One of the cornerstones of a successful business is a fair and innovative reward strategy because how you reward your team not only dictates how much fixed costs a company incurs but also determines how motivated and engaged employees are within the company. As a small business owner, it is critical to evaluate market and industry trends when determining your reward strategy to ensure that you are competitive enough to attract and retain the most qualified employees. Next, you must ensure that employees performing similar jobs are being compensated fairly and equitably in relation to one another. Finally, any performance-based pay and benefits or incentive scheme must be developed to ensure consistency when rewarding the workforce.

  1. Develop Reliable Performance Evaluation Processes

The most effective way to ensure workforce success is to develop and implement meaningful and reliable performance management process. An established and reliable performance management process ensures consistency across reviews, which enhances employee acceptance of the review process and subsequent performance-based decisions. The first step is to conduct a thorough job analysis of each position and write effective job descriptions. Finally, a systematic method for evaluating and making sense of reviews must be devised and communicated to employees and managers.

  1. Design Effective Training & Development Programs

As a small business owner, a primary goal should be to increase retention and promote internal growth, which can be done by designing effective training and development initiatives. The most common training initiative is to implement a standardised new employee induction programme which ensures satisfaction and commitment early on in an employee’s journey with the company. Another cost effective way to improve personnel development is to implement a mentorship program where an employee is paired with a successful more experienced employee to learn new skills and improve awareness of company goals and processes.

Like running a marathon, it can be a real struggle running a business. So don’t forget the human factor – you might start alone, but the right support and resources will help you along the way. Keep in mind why you are running your business – and focus on the finish line! If you need support to help you get to the finish line, drop me a line or give me a call and we can talk about how to develop your people strategy.