When companies think about their growth strategy, they tend to focus on the financial, operational and marketing strategies that drive long-term objectives. Many, however, overlook a key element in the sustaining success of their business: talent.
The right talent strategy is just as crucial to driving future success as operations, marketing and finance. In fact, it might be the most important.
A talent strategy includes developing, recruiting and retaining the right people at a rapid pace to fill gaps created by a growing business. It also includes planning for gaps in skillsets ahead of time to anticipate and keep ahead of needs as the business evolves.
The lifecycle of business includes multiple transformations at different stages of growth and the organization requires a strong strategy and process for recruiting and developing the right talent quickly through the transformation cycle.
To be competitive, companies must recruit the best talent and then ensure their employees are fully engaged, in the right position and have a competitive compensation structure. With that, this article outlines the key nine steps to follow in developing an effective talent strategy:
- Include leadership engagement
- View talent as investment
- Align business goals
- Develop a hiring plan
- Build a talent funnel
- Design a high-performance culture
- Recognize contributions
- Create flexible workload models
- Develop retention strategies
Include leadership engagement
Rely on leaders to articulate the importance of talent acquisition and retention. Not only are leaders involved in the actual talent strategy, they are involved in talent practices including working with managers to help them learn how to identify, find, hire, develop and retain the next generation of leaders.
View talent as investment
View human assets as an investment not an expense. The organization’s commitment to the talent strategy is demonstrated by investment dollars. This means the company has a budget for recruiting, retention and development. They optimize the costs associated with a strong workforce which includes not cutting the human capital budget first when margins decline or the market shifts.
While it may appear counter-intuitive, investment in human capital in a down market provides the foundation for future growth and opportunity. Often, employees remain loyal when the company has been loyal to them. A competitive advantage can be created with talent.
Align business goals
Determine expansion plans for the next three to five years and design the organizational structure that will support the growth. This includes establishing the link between the strategic priorities and the talent needs. The effort requires leveraging the first item above – deep leadership engagement. For talent to thrive, it needs to match the deeper, longer-term goals of the business, the key domain of company leadership.
Develop a hiring plan
A smart talent strategy includes determining hiring needs and skillset gaps and creating a hiring plan. Outline the key roles to be hired including key performance indicators (KPIs) and results-based job descriptions in advance. Analyze current employees and assess if they have growth potential and then create a career path for them.
Build a talent funnel
Everyone in the organization, especially managers, should be thinking about finding and attracting talent all the time. Being a talent scout isn't just the job of the human resources department.
For example, a barista at Starbucks who is great at customer service could be trained for a role if they are great culture fit. Use tools like LinkedIn Recruiter to constantly build a pipeline of qualified candidates.
Design a high-performance culture
Building a high-performance culture helps maximize and inspire talent. High performers seek a high-performing culture and want to be around other high performers. High-performers have more capacity than other employees and might demand a higher base compensation but the ROI will also be higher.
Recognize the value of each person’s individual contribution and how it benefits the collective. Autonomous employees will come up with solutions to obstacles that they encounter.
Promote the value of individual contribution while emphasizing the positive impact on the collective. Create a feedback loop so that employees identify impact their work has on other departments and how it impacts the fulfillment of the overall company goals. This provides the maximization of individual contribution in a collaborative environment.
Create flexible workload models
Create operating models that flow with the workload. This means creating talent pools that can be deployed on demand. This matches an increasingly popular business operating methodology in which companies leverage multidisciplinary teams to respond to and address business needs in real time.
Applying this to talent means reallocating and redeploying employees based on evolving priorities which helps companies respond rapidly to external shifts and business demand. This won't happen overnight as it requires a shift in process and mindset. It is a way of increasing responsiveness and speed.
Develop retention strategies
Keeping talent is just, if not more, important as motivating and attracting it. Some of the key components of effective retention programs include onboarding and orientation, employee compensation, perks, communication, culture, mentorship programs, ongoing training and career education, a clear path to growth within the organization, continuous feedback on performance, and consistently providing positive reinforcement for a job well done.
Talent is a key component for every company and building an effective talent strategy is a powerful way to maximize the company's competitive advantage. When the talent strategy is aligned with the business objectives it produces a culture where the individual contribution is aligned with the company's long-term goals and ensures that both the individual and the company thrive.