Getting thru the Maze of Strategic Workforce Planning

How to navigate the maze of strategic workforce planning revealed.In our last article we began to discuss the some of what goes into the planning process of the Strategic Workforce Planning process.

Now we are going to delve into what makes it work and the mechanics of getting thru the maze of strategic workforce planning that will ensure your success.

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 take inventory of your current talent pool. This will eventually help you determine how to transition people into these new roles. It will also give you insight into who won’t 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 she has the behaviors and interests to be productive in the job. For example, if the new job requires her to think more strategically and less tactically, does she have the DNA and the desire to make that leap? If she doesn’t fit well, you might be able to place her in a different job that fits 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 these skills. This helps you focus your training investments most effectively. 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. This can be accomplished by analyzing demographics to identify who is nearing retirement and when they might retire, and by understanding your voluntary and forced attrition.

Identify your talent gaps and 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 you will need in order to execute your new strategy, you can identify your gaps, determine a timeframe for closing those gaps, and create specific tactics for closing gaps.

We mentioned earlier the importance of focusing on critical roles and employee segments. The next step is to run scenarios in order to understand how the availability of these critical roles or segments impacts the rest of your business plan. Then determine how your workforce plan will be impacted. Timing is important, which is why we examined the labor market earlier in the process.

You typically have 4 options as you seek to fill these roles. They are “The 4 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 because 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 don’t 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 you can “try before you buy.”

Implementing and measuring the process

Process is the key word to remember
Strategic workforce planning is a process, not a one-time event. Like other business processes such as Total Quality Management (TQM) or 6-Sigma, strategic workforce planning requires a continuous improvement mindset. By standardizing our approach to a very important and challenging business problem, we reduce errors and better understand the factors that drive success. This ultimately reduces costs and improves effectiveness.

Below are three key lessons that will help you successfully navigate the maze of strategic workforce planning:

  1. Secure top-level executive sponsorship. Although the name “strategic workforce planning” is bound 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 to ensure that their needs are met. If they lose confidence in the process, they will resist it.
  2. Don’t attempt to swallow the entire elephant at once. As we mentioned, navigating the maze of strategic workforce planning 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 reaching out more broadly.
  3. Establish and track leading metrics. Inspect what you expect, starting with a few key metrics to set goals and measure progress toward them. Start simple and stay the course. This discipline will help you make informed decisions that maximize benefit to the business.
  4. Implement a S.M.A.R.T. system to measure the employees for job fit that correlates to productivity. This is really important as you need to remember that What Gets Measured, Gets Managed. All too often employee performance is either not measured at all or measured on subjective criteria, which is the best way to ensure failure. Consider these statistics that are based on/for every 10,000 organization:
    • 2000 actually Develop Goals (That’s 20%)
    • 400 Outline a Plan to Achieve Those Goals (That’s 4%)
    • 80 Act on the Plan (That’s 0.80%)
    • 16 Check Their Progress on Those Goals, (That’s 0.16%) and
    • Only 3 to 4 Businesses Create systems for Each Goal related Task (That’s 0.04%)

So is it any wonder why so many organization are going out of business, why so many are missing their objectives, and why turnover is so high. This is so important and critical that I will say it a different way:

  • If you cannot/do not collect measurable data you cannot MEASURE
  • If you cannot measure you cannot MANAGE
  • If you cannot manage you cannot IMPROVE
  • If you cannot improve you cannot COMPETE

Your Checklist: The Process To Navigate The Maze of Strategic Workforce Planning

  1. Establish where your business is going
    a. What is your business strategy?i. Areas to grow
    ii. Areas to maintain
    iii. Areas to exit
    b. What does this change mean for the business?
    i. Executive level
    ii. Business unit level
    iii. Front-line operational level
    c. Expected speed of change
  2. Understand where the labor market is going
    a. Macroeconomic forecasts
    b. Demographic trends
    c. Regulatory changes
    d. Competition for scarce resources
    e. Talent movement trends in your industry
  3. Identify your future talent demands

    a. Organizational structure necessary to support future strategy
    b. Jobs necessary to support the future organization
    c. Obsolete jobs to phase out
    d. Critical employee segments

  4. Assess your current talent inventory

    a. Behavioral fit for new future jobs
    b. Skills to perform new future jobs
    c. Internal talent movement

    i. Retirement
    ii. Attrition

  5. Identify your talent gaps

    a. What positions will you need to fill?–Scenario analysis
    b. When will you need to fill them?
    c. How will you fill them?

    i. Development of internal talent
    ii. Redeployment of redundant resources
    iii. Recruitment from within or from outside
    iv. Contingent and contract labor

  6. Implementation and Measurement Process

    a. Secure top-level executive sponsorship
    b. Don’t attempt to swallow the entire elephant!

    i. Focus on critical roles or most significant pain points
    ii. Build positive momentum through quick wins
    iii. Learn through a focused pilot

    c. Much more than an HR initiative

If you are plagued with issues like Poor Morale, Communication Problems, Low Customer Satisfaction and Utilization, Poor Customer Service, Low Productivity, High Error Rates, Poor Quality, Shrinking Margins, High Turnover, Low or Declining Customer Base, and Internal Resistance To Change than this is where you need to start.

Strategic workforce planning often results in organization-wide transitions that affect employees at every level, including front-line managers who often have to help their people navigate those transitions as smoothly as possible. That is why it is necessary to be aware of situation that can keep your managers from doing the very best jobs they possibly can. In our next article we will look at Symptoms and Remedies to what we consider to be the Critical Management Derailers.

Call Strategic Workforce Planning Expert Don Kolojek today at 440-420-2583 to start understanding the right path to get through the maze of strategic workplace planning.

Don is an experienced human resource consultants who has a proven track record of helping businesses hire the right people, and get them doing the right thing. Don's passion lies in helping organizations increase productivity and decrease defects and costs.

You can reach Don directly at 440-240-2583.

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