How To Align Your People Plan With Business Objectives

It all starts with strategic context.

Without clarity around the strategy of the organization, creating a “plan for people” and defining the role of talent management is not only difficult, it’s impossible.

Your people plan must serve the overall strategy of the organization. If it isn’t absolutely clear about what the strategy MEANS in terms of people, skills and competencies required, confusion and dysfunction “downstream” to talent management and every other function in the organization results.

There is no such thing as “good” alignment or “close” alignment. It either exists or it doesn’t and therefore the due diligence that must be applied to the process must be extremely disciplined and precise. Close enough isn’t good enough.

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The following process worked for me. It produced a succinct people plan for the business that was directly linked to business objectives, and had people marching in step.

1. First, the strategic game plan of the organization must contain a specific people plan with “people objectives” that define what talent is required to effectively execute the gale plan.

2. The CPO – Chief People Officer – must be at the executive planning table. A game plan that is developed without the fingerprints of the chief people leader will not produce the detailed direction required to align the human component of the organization to the desired strategic outcomes.

3. The people plan must be developed with sufficient granularity to answer these questions:
– what new competencies are required to achieve the new strategic goals defined in the game plan?
– what does the training and recruitment plan look like to acquire these new competencies? The timing of these actions must precisely parallel the strategy’s need for the new skills critical to deliver results within a specific timeframe.
– what existing competencies are no longer required?
– what training is needed to equip these people with the new skills required?
– what is the exit plan to move people out of the organization who are either incapable or unwilling to acquire the new expertise?
This piece is extremely important. You can’t have people hanging out with yesterday’s competencies and expect that you will be able to meet the new realities of the business. Only two options are available: train the new or exit the old.
– how do the elements of the people plan line up with strategic objectives? To get alignment, you have to demonstrate precisely how the outcome of each people plan element serves a corresponding component of the business strategy. For example which critical objectives of the business are satisfied by which of the new skills targeted to aquire? You need to be able to “see” the link directly, otherwise you can’t claim there is alignment.

4. The CPO must be held accountable to present the people plan back to the executive team that developed the organization’s game plan, and must PROVE that it is in alignment with the priorities of the strategy. This must be treated as an inquisition of sorts as the consequences of mis-alignment are serious: squandered resources and a dysfunctional culture.

Most organizations don’t apply this type of rigour to ensuring alignment, but complain of dysfunction.

You can’t have it both ways.

You will NEVER have talent management in alignment with business objectives if you don’t put in the discipline and hard work necessary to achieve it.

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