- Posted by Gavin Pommernelle
- On May 7, 2013
Are your talent management practices aligned with your business’s goals?
The response I often get when asking this question is “Yes,” however, the evidence commonly says otherwise.
There are four elements to talent management alignment, which cannot be separated from each other, as they each require the others to be effective and achievable.
- Clarity of your Business Strategy
- Leadership of your business and business units
- Talent capability across your business
- How your Talent Strategy enables your objectives
Together these create the platform to be able to achieve your business objectives and the alignment of these is what makes this possible. They are the enablers of value creation in your business.
In this article I’ll explore the importance and value of alignment of talent management with business strategy.
This is the next in a series of articles explaining a method of highly effective talent management that can put your business in a different league. The subsequent newsletter will offer a method of achieving this alignment.
Interdependency of the four elements
The four elements are highly interdependent and understanding the relationships between these elements will allow you to manage them effectively.
Think of them as the four wheels of a motorcar. If any one of these is not pointed in the same direction, it will be more difficult to drive to your destination.
Strong leadership can be a powerful driver for action, collaboration and the achievement of a vision. However, without the clarity of direction people will not know how the organization will achieve the vision and what their role in this is.
Conversely, you can have the most robust and innovative strategy but without leaders bringing inspiration, purpose and organizational focus the plans will not be executed.
Furthermore, both capable leadership and strategy is not enough without the right talent capabilities to deliver the actions, services and decision making which make the business goals a reality and not just an ambition.
Alignment is a competitive advantage in times of change
You’ve heard “The only constant is change.” Our environment, our competition, customer expectations etc. are continually evolving.
While the ultimate goal of our businesses remains constant, the way of getting there will evolve. An aligned organization enables this effectively and allows it to happen quickly and with the least disruption.
Back to our motorcar analogy. Making course corrections becomes intuitive when all four wheels are properly aligned. You don’t need a single person to hang on tightly with both hands, micromanaging to keep control. The business teams are not going in different directions and wearing each other down.
This means that your business is able to adapt quickly and smoothly. It will continue to perform while competitors are struggling to stay on course as they become highly reactive.
How to check your own business’s alignment
You will be able to assess your level of alignment by asking the right questions and the right types of questions. The consistent theme in these questions is about what your business needs to achieve the strategic objectives. This separates you from those businesses that do things because everyone else is doing it. It allows you to focus and do the things that actually make a difference.
Your business strategy has the talent requirements built into it rather than bolted on after the fact.
Not only do you know what capabilities are needed but you also expand your strategic options by understanding what is possible with the right capabilities and unique with your existing capabilities. What are the talent inhibitors to achieving the strategic goals? What will you do to remove these? Are talent metrics linked to other business metrics to ensure progress and impact? Is accountability of these defined?
You have people capable of leading AND delivering what is needed to achieve the objectives of your business
Do you know how your business needs to be structured to achieve your objectives? Do you have leaders, managers and talent who are capable of filling these crucial roles right now? Do you know what capabilities you need to develop and people to attract? What roles you have identified as essential for you to progress through your strategy implementation?
You are focusing effort, time and money on those things that enable you to achieve your business objectives.
Are you encouraging the right behaviors? Are people rewarded for things that support the achievement of your priorities? Do your customers experience the benefits you promise? Do your people know what each of these behaviors, priorities and customer promises are?
Only when you can answer these questions positively are you able to truly say that you are aligned.
How do metrics help you get aligned?
Looking at a company’s people related metrics, they commonly do not relate at all to business priorities. Even when they are relevant they are often looked at in isolation and result in limited action.
As an example, many businesses have a succession plan, they know who their HIPOs (high potentials) are and they measure their staff turnover. How many actually look at their strategic plan to determine what roles they will need and build the succession plan to reflect the future and not only today’s needs. Are the HIPOs identified on the basis of these strategic requirements or simply a generic definition of high potential? What is the turnover rate for these roles and for the HIPOs? What is the plan to reduce it if necessary and to develop alternative sources for the relevant talent?
These metrics show what is happening and how it is changing over time. With deeper analysis they may even tell you why it is happening. The alignment focus is where you decide on actions to not only act on this insight but also ensure that it will directly enable the achievement of your business objectives.
Alignment is therefore the way that the four elements of leadership, talent, business planning and talent planning are focused on the same objectives and are mutually supportive.
Having explored the need for and value of alignment, the next newsletter will look at how to achieve this.
I work worldwide with leaders and leadership teams in businesses experiencing changes in management, business direction or complexity. The way they lead their people is a critical and significant value creator and sustainable driver of their success.
Guiding leaders and teams using executive coaching, talent assessment and practical talent management tools brings real results.