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Connecting Your Business and Talent Strategy

Have you clearly defined and communicated the roles that employees need to play?

Are those roles optimally integrated into the business strategy and operations?

Are you consistently reinforcing the expectations and holding people accountable?

As the economy continues to pick up steam and market competition increases, organizations continue to struggle to find the right talent and effectively manage business outcomes.  Beyond developing the right strategy companies are searching for ways to connect strategic initiatives to day to day tactical execution.  From our experience to reach that ideal state there are three simple key success factors that all organizations should focus on.


Clarity and Simplicity

All strategies and tactics must be clearly communicated and understood by every member of the organization.  In other words, every team member knows what is expected of them both from a productivity and behavioral standpoint.  Our mantra is to make things clear, simple and easily understood.  Winning cultures devote significant time and effort to this endeavor.

One of the most basic management fundamentals that is frequently overlooked is a clear job description.  What we see in many organizations is that individual roles have not been formally reviewed or updated for years.  In a world of ever changing work priorities and fluid matrix reporting relationships (being accountable to more than one person), organizations need to devote the time to clearly define expectations and nuances for each job.

On the flip side of not having well defined job descriptions, we work with many organizations that have literally become job description happy.  As an example within some larger organizations we see thousands of documented roles.  Likewise, in smaller organizations we also see an inordinate number of defined roles for a small employment population.  Simplifying and aligning the organization to a reasonable number or job roles provides better operational clarity.  Finding that right balance is what every organization needs to strive for.


Alignment and Structure

Beyond clear individual role definitions, winning organizations spend significant time in aligning their organizational structure.  For example, we recently worked with an organization and noted that many departments touched the customer.  However, the departments only looked at that customer interaction from their individual vantage point.  Sales sold the deal, finance booked it, engineering needed to participate in estimating, tech support needed to understand the technical support demands and so on.  In this example, while each area had its own KPI’s, there was not a common process flow, reporting or forum to address the activity as a whole.  So the focus became to align and optimize the work flow structure.  ERP systems can help in this effort but they are not the sole solution and need to be aligned with clear lines of communication between key stakeholders.

Reviewing organizational alignment and structure needs to be a formal practice within all organizations, large and small, even if the organizations mission does not change very often.  This helps to guard against complacency and silo mentality.  A key success factor for this effort is to build the business acumen of the leadership team as they need to be the guardians of optimal alignment.  Their ability to think beyond their functional area and to holistically view organizational interdependencies is crucial.  Training, development and mentoring of key leaders in this area is essential.


Executing and Reinforcing Expectations

If you have the top two areas covered, the third and most critical area is to execute and consistently reinforce expectations.  The best laid plans will not drive business success unless they are consistently executed and reinforced.  
This is where business strategy and talent strategy really intersect.  Hiring the right talent, establishing appropriate goals, managing performance, improving skill levels, compensating, incentivizing, communicating and engaging employees are all factors impacting organizational success.  Moreover, how you manage these areas defines the type of organizational culture you will produce.

Most organizations tell us that their greatest challenge in executing their business plan is having the right talent base.  From a strategy standpoint, this means that you will need to optimize your recruiting process and develop the capability to quickly move the talent through the ranks once they are hired.  And by the way, you have to do this in a very challenging marketplace where turnover is high and employee engagement is not where it needs to be.

Having a well developed talent strategy and connecting it to your business strategy is paramount.  For most organizations it is the most crucial element of achieving organizational objectives and a determinant of what type of culture you will have.  Getting there requires a lot of small steps and significant attention to connecting strategy to tactical execution.

Dan Simovic is the Managing Director at TAMS Group. He works with a team of top-notch consultants to provide practical solutions to companies designed to improve employee and organizational productivity, attract, develop, manage and reward their most critical assets: their employees; and minimize workplace compliance risk.