Updated: Jan 29
Having the right talent, fully engaged, in the right position with the right compensation, so their businesses can stave off competitors, has become a paramount concern for CEOs—an issue as likely to give them cold sweats at night as the prospect of missing their quarterly numbers. -SHRM Executive Network, HR People + Strategy Blog*
A strong talent management strategy is a competitive differentiator for businesses, and senior leaders are keen to partner with HR and Talent Development to build a strategy that progresses organizational goals.
November is the perfect time to articulate and gain buy-in for your strategy for the next year. You've likely (hopefully) been collecting data and ideas of what's needed in the new year. Now it's time to get it in writing and meet with your stakeholders and partners to validate the plan.
In this article we'll talk about formulating your talent strategy, along with how to begin to translate it to a talent plan for the upcoming year.
What is a Talent Strategy?
But first, let's talk about what a talent strategy is. Talent management is the work you do to identify, recruit, assess, develop, grow, train, engage and retain employees. It's the needed activities to source and recruit great employees, then keep them performing and growing and engaged. A talent management strategy articulates the talent objectives that you set for the year in response to business goals or a particular business direction.
A talent management strategy nails down the objectives and high-level direction that you have in mind for recruiting or training, for example. You might set specific goals for a particular business unit that is planning for major growth next year. Or maybe you want to address a significant spike in attrition in another business unit. A talent management strategy is like identifying the destination and timeframe of a trip you're taking. You have the big-picture in mind, but haven't worked through the specific stops you're going to make just yet.
Your talent strategy should include the annual activities that all groups engage each year, such as merit or succession planning. These are foundational for all work groups, and may not have specific goals. It's simply good practice to reiterate the foundations with your stakeholder teams. Once you have the foundation captured, articulate specific goals or areas of focus for specific business units, if you have them. Maybe a group that is seeing higher attrition would benefit from a goal to lower it by 8%. A newly created department might receive a goal to establish their initial talent strategy. Once you've identified specific department needs, consider organizational needs or trends that you've noted - maybe engagement needs a boost or you know a new regulation is going into effect next year and will need a revision of compliance training. A big one these days, the movement to dispersed working. That may warrant significant consideration in the talent strategy.
Getting Buy-in from Stakeholders
Once you have articulated your proposed talent management strategy, it's time to share it with stakeholders - your customers and HR partners - to collect their input and gain buy-in.
I like the perspective and guidance shared in this article by Kristi Hedges:
Real buy-in involves at least some element of co-creation. It invites discussion, debate, and allows everyone to feel even more vested in the outcome.**
She encourages readers to keep a firm draft of your concept or strategy in mind as you engage customers, stakeholders and partners, then refine it per the input you receive from them.
For instance, for the business unit that is expecting big growth, sit down to share your thoughts with the group leader and collect hers, as well. Share the strategy you have in mind and see what she thinks. Ensure that you have pinpointed the primary business goals or gaps that need talent support. It's important at this point that your customer is bought-in to the strategy. You might also need to bring along your HR partners, such as the Talent Acquisition or the HR Business Partner teams. Fill them in and get their perspective. You want a well-rounded view. Collaboration ensures all perspectives are captured, making for a strong strategy.
But also keep in mind that we're working at a high-level at this point. Articulate goals and high level direction. We're not to the tactics just yet.
In the next post, we'll begin thinking through the who, what, when, where, why and how to put details to the strategy to create a plan for the year.
Your assignment this week is two fold: 1) articulate a draft of your thoughts. Get them down on paper or in a PowerPoint. 2) Schedule meetings with your customer(s) and HR partners to discuss the strategy. Get your thoughts to a place where you can discuss your ideas, then engage in input sessions.
*Heckman, RJ. "5 Steps to Create a Talent Strategy for Future Success." SHRM Executive Network, HR People + Strategy. https://blog.hrps.org/blogpost/5-Steps-to-Create-a-Talent-Strategy-for-Future-Success
Hedges, Kristi. "How to Get Real Buy-in for Your Idea." Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2015/03/16/how-to-get-real-buy-in-for-your-idea/?sh=51af656c4044