Strategic Talent Management

To have the right people, in the right jobs, at the right time, to achieve your expected results is building a Strategic Talent Management process.

By building a strong strategic talent management process, organizations will understand their current state, forecast talent gaps and take the steps to close those gaps.

Benefits of Effective Strategic Talent Management

  • Alignment between business strategy & human capital needs
  • Clarify current and future roles and responsibilities
  • Build clear plans for training, development & recruitment
  • Ensure knowledge transfer across multi-generational workforce
  • Maximize the contribution of every employee
  • Minimize disruption associated with sudden departures

How to Optimize Your Talent

Identify Your Under Performers

Organizations need to identify their weakest points in order to build strong strategies. Sometimes employees may be nice people, but they are not adding enough value to your organization. The best solution for the company would be to make the tough decision to let them go. If you keep them, then your marginal-to-top performers no longer have an incentive to go above and beyond average job performance — they see that mediocrity is both tolerated and accepted.

Do You Have the Data to Support Your Decisions?

In order to take these difficult decisions it is recommended to support it with facts instead of opinions. There are many assessment tools that provide objective data for determining if an employee is under performer or the victim of other circumstances that can be overcame.

Assess Job and Managerial Fit

Once you have identified who your under performers are, it is important to understand the reasons behind their lack of output. Profiles International's ProfileXT® and Profiles Performance Indicator assessments can help you answer these common questions:

  • Does the employee have the required qualities for this job?
  • Can the employee work well with a team?
  • How does the employee respond to stress?
  • How can I best motivate the employee?

The ProfileXT® assessment measures how well an individual fits specific jobs in your organization. The "job matching" feature of the ProfileXT® is unique, and it enables you to evaluate an individual relative to the qualities required to successfully perform in the specific job. It is used throughout the employee life cycle for selection, onboarding, managing, and strategic workforce planning. When optimizing your organization you can use the ProfileXT® to generate results that can enhance your method of employee selection.

Another helpful tool is the Profiles Performance Indicator, a DISC-type assessment that reveals aspects of an individual's personality that could impact their fit with their manager, coworkers, and team as well as their job performance. It is used primarily for motivating and coaching employees, and resolving post-hire conflict and performance issues.

Both of these assessments can help you understand more about your employees to place them in a job that better fits their respective skills and personalities, while at the same time increasing company productivity and output.

Plan Strategically

Having the right people in the right jobs at the right time to achieve your expected results is called Strategic Workforce Planning. This discipline helps organizations understand their current state, forecast talent gaps, and take the necessary steps to close those gaps. Organizations currently consider this as core business process that is often handled by the HR department; however, in order to make a successful outcome from the strategic workforce plan. It is important that the leaders should approach the process proactively and take ownership of it.

We have all heard the saying that "failing to plan is planning to fail." The traditional strategic planning process often focuses heavily on large capital expenditures, technology, and marketing investments. But the traditional process focuses too little on the organization and the human resources necessary for sound execution.

Organizations do a fatal mistake by assuming that they have the right people with the necessary capabilities. The truth is that it can take several months, if not years, to get the right people in the right jobs, and this can seriously delay the execution of even the most well thought out strategy. We polled our experts and asked them to define a simple, straightforward strategic workforce management process.

Establish Where Your Business is Going

Business strategy drives the organizational structure and jobs

In order to build the Strategic Workforce Plan (SWP) the first step is to have a clear understanding of your business strategy. At the end of the day, your workforce is there to implement the strategy and achieve the expected business results. You have to understand the elements of your business strategy that will have the greatest impact on your talent strategy including:

  • Areas of your business that you want to grow
  • Areas of your business that you want to maintain but make more profitable
  • Areas of your business that you want to divest or exit

What does this changing strategy mean for the business?

Strategic change fails when people who are implementing the change do not know what they need to do differently in order to support the new strategy; accordingly the above question is a crucial question that must be understood at the executive level, the business unit level, and the front-line operational level. These disconnects create confusion, conflict, and stress, and put even the best people in a position to fail. Make sure that you have thought through the operational details of your strategy, and that you have sufficient facts and support to make a good decision.

How far, how fast?

Know how far and how fast you can reasonably move. It takes time, money, and thought to design and build technological infrastructure, production facilities, and distribution capability. Similarly, it takes time to source, deploy, and train talent. This is even more true when your workforce requires special skills or credentials, or when your jobs are located in a talent-poor or highly competitive region.

The bottom line is that you need to know your business strategy, and the impact of that strategy, before you can create a meaningful workforce plan.

Understand Where the Labor Market is Going

Scanning the market helps you identify talent supply and limitations

In order for you to build a reliable SWP; you have to understand the labor market for the jobs necessary to drive your strategy; by this you will understand the length of time it will take to fill a job, the salary you should expect to pay for the job and the potential challenges to fill the job.

Common factors to consider include:

  1. Macroeconomic forecasts—A vibrant, growing economy usually increases demand for talent and raises the cost of employment. Conversely, a challenging economy often increases the supply and affordability of even the very best talent.

  2. Demographic trends—The age of the available workforce can be an indicator of the capability and availability of workers in an area. Therefore it may be desirable to locate a technology business near a college town as opposed to a retirement community.

  3. Regulatory changes—Think about what would happen if the government suddenly offered universal healthcare. People who work for larger organizations because of the health benefits may choose to enter business independently, thus changing the employment mix.

  4. Talent movement trends within your industry—Who's moving, where are they moving, and why? This can be driven by many external factors such as better job security, better pay, or the opportunity to do the most interesting work.

Identify Your Future Talent Demands

Business strategy drives organizational and job design

You will design the organization and the jobs necessary to implement the strategy; once you translate your business strategy into operational requirements. If you contrast this with your organization and jobs as they stand right now, you can identify jobs you will need to create, jobs you will need to phase out, and the optimal timing of your transition.

Talent identification can be part art and part sciences as with most forecasting efforts. We need to make certain assumptions when we develop our business strategies, and the further ahead we plan, the more uncertain those assumptions become. Rather than getting bogged down in the minor areas, we recommend first focusing on critical roles and employee segments.

Critical Roles

There are jobs that are vital to your future business strategy. If you do not have a solid plan for filling these roles with capable people, the business strategy simply will not come to life.

Critical Employee Segments

This can include mature workers, visible minorities, members of Gen Y, ethnic groups, veterans, aboriginals, and others. They can be strategically important to certain organizations that need to fulfill requirements for certain types of government contracts or grants, or that want to meet the needs of key customer groups.

Assess Your Current Talent Inventory

Who's on first? What's on second?

Once you understand future demand, the amount of change needed, and the optimal timing of that change, you should inventory your current talent pool. This will help you determine how to eventually transition people into new roles. It will also give you insight into who will not fit into the new organization and help you create an exit plan.

There are three key questions you need to answer:

  1. How well will the worker "fit" the new job?

    You need to know if he/she has the behaviors and interests to be productive in the job. For example, if the new job requires him/her to think more strategically and less tactically, does he/she have the DNA and the desire to make that leap? If he/she does not fit well, you might be able to place him/her in a different job that fits him/her better.

  2. Will the worker have the skills to perform the new job?

    It is much easier to teach skills than to change behaviors. However, you need to know what skills the learner needs to acquire and how long it will take to acquire them. This helps you focus your training investments most judiciously. There are a number of very effective assessments to help you answer these questions.

  3. How is talent currently moving in your organization?

    You need to understand how long talent stays in your organization.

Identify Your Talent Gaps and Your Strategy to Close Them

The age-old strategic planning questions: What? When? and How?

Once you have assessed your internal talent inventory and understand the jobs necessary for executing your new strategy, you can identify your gaps, determine a time frame for closing those gaps, and create specific tactics for closing gaps.

You typically have four options as you seek to fill these roles. They are "The Four Bs":

  1. Build:

    Developing your internal talent helps you build a cohesive culture and sends a strong message to your people that you are committed to them. It also mitigates risk since you know the employee, the employee knows you, and the transition can be relatively quick.

  2. Bounce:

    Redeploy talent from obsolete or redundant jobs, as well as people who do not fit well with the new jobs that they may be qualified to fill. This can also mean bouncing the employee from the organization altogether.

  3. Buy:

    Recruit outside talent. This can be expensive, slow, and risky. Recruiters are often involved, the process may be long, due diligence takes more time, and it is still difficult to predict whether the outside hire will be successful in your organization.

  4. Borrow:

    Procure contingent or contract labor. This is increasingly popular for new ventures because it is highly flexible and allows you to "try before you buy."

Implementing the Process

Process is the key word to remember

We should keep in mind that Strategic Workforce Planning is a process, not a one-time event. Like other business processes such as Total Quality Management (TQM) or 6-Sigma, SWP requires a continuous improvement mindset. By putting a standard approach to every step, the approach for the important and challenging business problem, we are reducing the errors and better understanding the factors that drive success. This ultimately reduces costs and increases effectiveness.

Below are three key lessons that will help your SWP efforts succeed:

  1. Secure top-level executive sponsorship.

    It is very important to understand that the name "strategic workforce planning" is not bounded to get the attention of the HR department, its scope far exceeds the mandate of most HR departments and even senior-level HR executives. HR can facilitate the process, but the business and functional leaders need to be intimately involved in order to ensure that their needs are met. If they lose confidence in the process, they will resist it.

  2. do not attempt to swallow the entire elephant at once.

    As we mentioned, SWP is a process that reaches broadly within an organization and requires a continuous improvement mindset. It is best to focus on the critical roles or most significant pain points first, and build positive momentum through quick wins. Use focused pilot projects to learn how the process will work in your organization before expanding the scope.

  3. Establish and track leading metrics.

    Inspect what you expect, starting with a few key metrics. Start simple and stay on the course. This discipline will help you make informed decisions that maximize benefits to the business.

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