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Why I Hired a Development Expert to Join my Executive Search Team: Lessons in Workforce Planning

As an Executive Search practitioner who prides herself on saving her clients time and money (yes, really!), I’m always learning and looking for new ways to enhance our offering.

Here I explain how, with the arrival of Brexit, there has never been a more critical time to take a more strategic approach to talent….

Damien Tupinier on Unsplash

Your People are Dynamic

Before I start, I should say that the term “workforce planning” implies a stale, academic, one-off exercise. It’s not. Workforce planning is an ongoing and continuously evolving series of conversations that map the strength of talent in your organisation and strategically deploy that talent to achieve the brand’s goals.

Talent needs to be actively managed, nurtured and developed to ensure you have the right people, in the right place, at the right time. This means thinking not just about your immediate needs, but also about where you want to be in the future. This is workforce planning.

Essentially, you need tactics and metrics to:

  • Step 1 - Understand where your organisation is now, and where it wants to be in the future

  • Step 2 - Measure the capacity and capability of your existing workforce to meet these goals

  • Step 3 – Predict the capacity and capability of the workforce you’ll need in the future

  • Step 4 – Identify any gaps between the outputs of steps 2 and 3

  • Step 5 – Plan how these gaps will be addressed e.g. succession planning, talent management, talent development, internal mobility/redeployment, or talent acquisition

  • Step 6 – Continuously discuss, manage and adapt the resulting workforce plan

And remember, your consumers and competitors are always watching - because what you do with, and to, your people is a direct reflection of your brand, more so than abstract logos and marketing rhetoric.

Workforce Planning Resources

I won’t go into the ins-and-outs here of how to conduct a workforce planning exercise, as this can be as simple or complex as your objectives.

But those interested in developing or applying workforce planning might find the following useful:

How are HR Directors approaching workforce planning in 2019?

Peter-Andries Albrecht, VP Global Talent Development, VP EMEA Organisation Effectiveness & Performance, VF Corporation told us:

“For us workforce planning is about business outcomes and, in line with our transformation agenda, we’re assessing our critical capabilities that drive growth. This requires long term planning to determine how many of what kind of roles we need and when, as we can’t afford to fall short on talent and resources in these areas.

Given the fluid nature of certain talent pools, the challenge for us is to try and pin down and clearly define not just what we need now, but also what new skills we’ll need in the future. Given the speed at which the arena is evolving we’re looking to develop our existing talent as much as we can, so they grow with us to help shape our vision of the future.

I should underline that this workforce planning approach requires a focus not just on attracting the right talent with a strong employer value proposition, but also crucially on the strategic retention and development of these individuals.”

What does this mean for HVO?

So, what does this mean for us? My now colleague, Zia Paul-Birabi, and I have been friends for nearly 20 years and our careers have taken different paths. Mine has been focused mainly on retail and Executive Search, while hers has focused on HR change management, OD and talent development.

Over the course of the last few years the challenges faced by our respective clients have increasingly overlapped and we have both lamented on the siloed nature of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management.

For me, it has been frustrating to watch candidates enter an organisation full of excitement and promise, only for there to be no subsequent induction, objectives set or direct management of that individual.

For my colleague, it has been frustrating as a talent management specialist to be called upon to ‘fix’ candidates who were never the right fit for the organisation in the first place.

This has led us to recently combining forces to develop a bespoke Behavioural Science Search process designed to more formally map organisational ‘fit’. More on this later.

If you’re passionate about workforce planning, we’d love to hear from you. What strategies are you deploying to overcome the current talent challenges?

Email us your thoughts.

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