Is Your Organization Ready for the Talent Demands of the Future?

One cartoon man piles even more papers on the desk of an overworked employee

Are you keeping close enough tabs on the size, quality and skills of your workforce?

If you believe, as we do, that people can create a significant and compelling competitive advantage, you need to regularly review how prepared your workforce is to meet the critical demands of your business not only now but in the future. In other words, you need a talent management strategy that will ensure your talent requirements are in place to help you grow. You need a workforce plan that ensures you have the ability and the high performing organizational culture needed to quickly adapt to marketplace changes.

Here are the basic talent management steps we recommend to our high growth clients:

  1. Agree upon the relative importance of people to your business
    Gather your business leaders together to assess their perceived value of the workforce as a competitive advantage. The leadership team should agree upon how the value of people (attracting, developing, engaging and retaining talent) compares to other strategic intentions such as operational excellence, financial strength, product innovation, customer satisfaction, etc.

    While they are all important ingredients to any business, different businesses have different strategic and cultural foundations. For example, Federal Express, Amazon and Starbucks are famous for putting their customers first. Google, Virgin and Southwest are famous for putting their people first. Both approaches, when well executed, can lead to success. The bottom line: you and your leadership team need to take a stand on where talent falls on the priority scale and plan and execute accordingly.

  2. Evaluate what you have
    Once you agree upon the relative importance of attracting, developing, engaging and retaining talent for your business, it is time to understand how well the workforce is currently performing. This includes assessing how prepared they are in terms of skills for what is needed today and what will be needed tomorrow and forecasting what is required in terms of headcount and skills to meet current and future needs.
  3. Predict what could happen
    Research workforce trends and examine scenarios that have the potential to upset the current value and cost of your organization’s employee base. Take a look at both internal and external factors and begin to prioritize those events that pose the greatest risk to being able to attract and retain both the urgent and strategic talent you need to execute your business strategy.
  4. Assess what you are missing
    This is where you begin to answer the question of “what if” any of the scenarios you described were to take place. Where do you need to beef up the workforce to meet those challenges? You should consider potential gaps in skills, knowledge, competencies and bandwidth.
  5. Know what you need to do
    Now you are ready to decide just what talent management actions you need to take to fill those identified gaps. You know what you have, what could happen and what you need. This is the stage where you figure out what steps the organization needs to take and their order of priority. Do you need to increase or decrease your workforce and how will you go about it? Do you need to improve performance overall or only in some areas? Is your talent armed with all they require to meet future challenges? Be as specific as you can in setting goals and timelines.
  6. Monitor and measure how you are doing
    As you make progress against the talent road map you have set, keep track of how well you are measuring up by identify the critical few leading and lagging indicators of success.

You have undertaken a worthy initiative to meet future growth needs. Don’t keep it a secret. Be sure your employees appreciate your investment in them, your stakeholders understand why it matters, and your customers recognize the value of your engaged and fully empowered workers.

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