“Strategy is a commodity, Execution is an art” – Peter Drucker
An Organization Strategy renders the path which it needs to take to reach its goal it has set for itself. The deliverable is clearly defined, where the organization is currently and where it wants to reach and is extremely critical for the growth and success of the business. Having said that, a well laid out strategy will only remain on paper if it is not executed well. “Without strategy, execution is aimless and without execution, strategy is useless” – Morris Chang. They both are critical for delivering the business goal and larger business agenda.
HR role is important in delivering the organization strategy, with talent being its key foundation pillar. Talent is the only unique differentiator which will lead the Organization to reach its strategic goal and deliver the shareholder’s value. All products, services and campaigns etc can easily be worked out by the competition. The core differentiator for an Organization will always be the talent and tapping its potential to the tee. If we look at the operational cost of an Organization, the human capital accounts for around 70% (in some cases even more) of total operational expense and it is a much-needed investment, which will only be able to deliver to its utmost potential if there is a well thought out talent strategy linked with the Company’s overall strategic agenda. A broad outcome of talent strategy is a clear thought out plan which charts out empowering right people with required skills and knowledge in the right places to ensure right business impact. It is a framework which provides utmost direction, in line with the Organization strategy, on talent priorities and out comes (SMART) which have a specified time frame and a measure attached to it.
To develop an aligned talent strategy, HR business partners have their work clearly mapped out. Though HR needs to work on talent strategy however it works best if business leaders and HR leaders work on this together – a structured process which can be mapped out along with the thought leadership, constructive and facilitated dialogue resulting in a balance between business context and talent processes / programs.
In my last stint as CHRO with a Foods Company, one of the strategic goal to be delivered was to shift focus to evolve B2C business while sustaining B2B business. For this, an aligned talent strategy was needed and accordingly the need to look into benchmarks of similar size companies, best practices which can be customized, a brainstorming with the business teams on strengthening capabilities along with the talent assessment, working on talent as well as position gaps, resulting in clearly penning down the 3-4 objectives which HR needs to deliver along with the business like one of them being getting the regional sales structure in line with B2C market – looking into Areas Sales Managers (ASMs) for General Trade in metro cities and especially in 10 focus cities identified with the business in a defined time frame and so on.
So largely to develop a talent strategy which supports the Organization strategy, it is important for HR to be completely aligned with the business. At times HR is aligned however it is more at operational level and not strategic level which only supports the day-to-day operations without looking at the larger picture. The larger picture understanding makes the difference as it helps HR to wear a ‘leadership hat’ rather than its own ‘function hat’ that is working in tandem with business and that is the only way one can deliver a talent strategy aligned to the Organization strategy. To define an aligned talent strategy, HR needs –
UNDERSTANDING OF BUSINESS SCENARIO AND THE ORGANIZATION KEY STRATEGIC GOAL DEFINED FOR THE YEAR
Without understanding, the whole exercise of making a talent strategy will be futile. It is important for HR to know the business trends, market research data points, short range and long range approved plans by the shareholders, key strategic pillar which the organization in focusing on, unique differentiator, brand salience and so on.
FOCUSING ON ORGANIZATION CAPABILITY
The organization capability is the company’s ability to effectively manage its resources to deliver on the larger agenda and keep up with the competitor advantage. A clear understanding of the what organization is best at and to sustain it; what needs to be worked upon and to build it. HR needs to understand the competencies and skills needed for future plans of the organization to ensure the right fit and bridge the talent gap to create maximum business impact. It encompasses all functional, technical and behavioral capabilities. HR can act as a facilitator and add significant value by helping the business leaders identify capabilities which the company needs to excel at to bring about the business impact. As per an article in HBR, “just as a financial audit tracks cash flow and a 360-degree review assesses leadership behaviors, a capabilities audit can help you monitor your company’s intangible assets. It will highlight which ones are most important given the company’s history and strategy, measure how well the company delivers on these capabilities, and lead to an action plan for improvement. Leaders should choose no more than three on which to spend their time and attention; they should aim to make at least two of them world-class. This means identifying which capabilities will have the most impact and will be easiest to implement and prioritizing accordingly”.
IDENTIFYING TALENT RAMIFICATIONS
Well defined competency models provide organizations with accurate criteria of performance management as well as talent assessment, hiring, development, redeployment, succession management. HR can help in this information and work upon the data along with the business leaders to assess talent, critical roles, having High Potential (HiPo) in these identified positions, looking into the criticality and retention matrix – criticality of roles along with retention risk of the individual, succession plans largely working on sustainable pipeline of talent available to fill key roles over time. Critical roles need to be revisited and reassessed in case there is a shift in the mapped-out strategy. There needs to be a complete assessment of talent vis-a-vis the capabilities identified which will provide a list of the talent implications – talent to be associated with the strategic business processes and leveraging those processes for competitive advantage as well as talent constraints which needs to be focused upon to deliver on the talent strategy.
FORMULATE, IMPLEMENT AND ALIGN TALENT STRATEGY
With all the above inputs an aligned talent strategy is put in place with clear defined actionable(s) which can be measured and has a clear accountability and timeline attached to it. Once the strategy is clearly articulated and agreed upon, it becomes imperative to provide for structures, infrastructure support, processes, deploying people systems and processes, career development, skill development, communicate with transparency and regularity with capable leaders at all levels. Complete alignment across is a must for the execution of the strategy. It cannot be piece meal or for certain functions in isolation, has to be across board at all levels on the same lines.
HR needs to work with a collaborative approach across the organization, managing the change effectively by regularly communicating along with the business leaders and ensuring the communication is consistent at all levels especially for those impacted with the change. A year communication plan for employees to be put in place so that each one is aware of what needs to be worked upon to deliver on organization strategy. It is essential to have clear and consistent message to each employee linking his/her role to the organization delivery creating a sense of ownership and pride. Engaged employee becomes critical and that will become a key differentiator in the success of the organization.
It is imperative that Talent is aligned to deliver on the organization strategy. It needs to be defined in a given business context. No one size fits all hence it is important to do a thorough work in one own organization’s context. Strategic talent management gives an impetus to the delivery of the business strategy and if all the actions are aligned to the vision, the ball will definitely reach the goalpost and will lead to high ROI, improved productivity and efficiencies, better engagement with focused and passionate employees.
References: https://hbr.org/2004/06/capitalizing-on-capabilities,http://static.kornferry.com/media/sidebar_downloads/KFTalentStrategyWhitepaper.pdf, https://www.right.com/wps/wcm/connect/40bcc5a5-46c0-43f4-9315-6c9fbef24508/why-you-need-a-talent-strategy-talent-management-magazine.pdf?MOD=AJPERES
Author- Dolly Grover is a Certified Life Coach with 25 years+ of work experience as an accomplished result driven HR professional across various industries ranging from Paper, Telecom Vendor and Operator, IT as well as Foods / FMCG. Her last assignment was as Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) with FieldFresh Foods Private Limited (JV between Bharti Enterprises and Del Monte Pacific Limited). Prior to this, she has worked with Bharti Airtel Limited as Head HR & Administration for the mobility circle (UP West &Uttarakhand), Alcatel and Ballarpur Industries Limited, and Thapar Group. She has done her Masters in Social Work (Gold Medalist) from Delhi University as well as PG Diploma in Personnel & IR Management from BhartiyaVidyaBhavan