Published in, Forbes

By, Stuart R. Levine

Is your organization planning its current and future talent needs with the same level of energy devoted to its strategic plan? Your human capital plan must fit hand-in-glove with your strategic plan. A disciplined approach to your talent planning is a “must have” to complement your strategy. The strategic planning process guides your organization from where you are now to where you choose to be in the future, and your human capital plan makes that strategy a reality.

Companies that closely connect their talent planning to their strategic planning perform better financially. Just as you would identify your most important business opportunities and develop strategies to capitalize upon them, you must identify and quantify the important functions and responsibilities within your organization allocating talent to capitalize upon them.

A fresh look at your existing positions will yield new insights. Start by considering current jobs, and think about the goals that each position needs to accomplish. With the goal in mind, define the responsibilities of the job, and the skills of the talent needed to realize the job’s objectives. Don’t limit your thinking to the qualities of the employee currently in that position; they may or may not be the right fit. Instead focus on the outcome you want the position to create. Each position’s value to the organization should be quantified to the extent possible. Apply the same analysis of talent to the positions that do not yet exist, but must be created for your strategy to succeed.

Disciplined analysis of how a position creates organizational value sheds light on important value-creation functions. Some positions add value by realizing and managing revenue generation some by refining and reducing operating costs and some by improving organizational efficiencies. For these functions, value may be quantified by monetary measures such as contribution to revenue and cost savings from efficiencies created.

Often overlooked, are functions viewed as just cost centers, that are needed to create value. But supporting roles like IT, cybersecurity, risk management, and your HR positions are essential to the organization. Without them, business can grind to a halt. For such support, other more qualitative assessments may be employed like measures of effectiveness of ERM or learning initiatives that move the organization forward.

Every position should add value to the organization, yet some positions contribute much more than others. In fact, your analyses will probably discover that some positions are so important, that it would be difficult to function without them. Essential value-driving roles usually do not match the levels on your organizational chart. There are critical roles filled by people at numerous levels. In fact, when companies take a deep dive into the roles with highest value creation, they find that many of them are at levels significantly below the C-suite. These key positions don’t always get senior-level attention and might be missed.

It is a problem when key talent doesn’t get rewarded for their valuable work. Human capital planning means that management will be proactive and not wait until key talent has found better compensation and recognition at another company. At times, key people feel they must play the game of “getting a retention”, which means using the threat of leaving to get an improved pay and recognition package to be retained. Countering a retention package opens the eyes of management to the employee’s worth, whereas careful position analyses and human capital planning would make such drama unnecessary.

In the same way that your talent analysis assures your organization has the needed skills to face the future, the approach should extend to the board. All too often board recruitment relies on word of mouth and friends of the current board. This is a formula for a homogeneity in thinking that can lack a broader perspective that today’s world requires. Continuous technology, tax and regulatory changes requires open-minded creative thinking to grasp business needs and opportunities in new ways. Board members must be able to understand and oversee the introduction of ways to accelerate and improve performance. They have a duty to provide fellow board members with innovative ideas and new approaches.

Alignment of your strategic planning with your human capital planning involves all levels of the organization, from the staff, to the C-suite to the board. Position your company to make your strategy a reality.