You have a well-developed business strategy and clear goals. There’s just one problem: You’re not consistently meeting your objectives. If this sounds familiar, you’ve likely overlooked a key element of business success: Talent optimization.
Talent optimization uses data to take an objective, systematic approach to understanding people, and applies the resulting insight to improve the way they work. As a result, your business sticks to its strategy and meets its goals.
Business succeeds or fails on talent
People are a vital part of your business. Hiring, managing, and upskilling employees encompasses the largest part of most business budgets. Yet, many businesses are failing to fully utilize this most powerful of resources. They create business strategies that guide their technical and functional decisions, but for some reason, they don’t apply the same thinking to people within their organization.
This might be because people strategy has traditionally landed in the realm of Human Resources. When questions about hiring, talent, and team development come up, executives kick those questions down the hall to the HR department. In doing so, they miss a valuable opportunity.
Unable to personally connect with the mission or understand what is required of them, employees begin to feel disengaged. As a result, they stop giving their best and start doing just enough to keep their jobs. Productivity suffers, client service slumps, safety incidents rise. This damages your reputation and the business starts to lose money. Your best employees look for new jobs where they can feel valued and connected.
This worst-case scenario is avoidable if you learn to apply talent optimization informed by data and guided by your business strategy.
What is talent optimization
The essence of leadership is aligning employees with business strategy. Talent optimization is your alignment tool. In practice, you’ll use quantitative data and analytics to understand job requirements, identify the best candidates, build effective teams, and manage employees to achieve business goals.
It’s important to remember that optimization does not happen in a vacuum. You can’t just tell HR to start optimizing talent and then walk away. To be effective, talent optimization must be informed by business strategy. The business strategy provides context. It tells team members what the business is trying to achieve so you can optimize talent for that goal.
For example: if one of your goals is to diversify your business by entering a new vertical, you would first identify the skills and aptitudes necessary to achieve it. This might include creativity, tolerance for risk, or specific manufacturing skills. Next, you look at quantitative data and analytics for your team to understand whether they have the skills you need. If not, can they be taught those skills or should you look for new hires to fill these roles? Check to see if everyone is aligned with the goal and knows what is expected of them. You might find that you need to improve communication, assign direct reports, or bring in new talent with the right skills. This is how you use talent optimization to align your talent with your business goals.
How to optimize your business for talent
To use talent optimization effectively in your business you first need a business strategy. Your business strategy is the reference against which you’ll measure all key actions and decisions. Most organizations already have a strategy in place, however, few have learned to view their strategy through the lens of talent. With talent optimization, you’ll use your people resources to translate a well-designed business strategy into positive business results.
If your strategy isn’t already people-centric, you can start creating alignment through four key actions:
1. Diagnose: Measure critical people data like behavioral profiles, employee engagement levels and overall job performance and analyze it to understand where your business is succeeding and where there is room for improvement. Identify remedies.
2. Design: Create and prepare to continuously evolve your people strategy based on what you learned through diagnosis.
3. Hire: Use talent optimization insights to recruit and hire top talent and build cohesive teams.
4. Inspire: Align all employees with the mission and strategy through data-driven career pathing, organizational culture maintenance, and management of both people and teams.
Remember that your strategy must be documented if you expect the people in your organization to follow it. Each member of the organization should understand how their actions and leadership work toward business goals. In this way, employees become invested and engaged. The business thrives and consistently achieves its goals.
Empowered by data
With data, business leaders are empowered to make objective talent decisions rather than subjective ones. Talent optimization ensures that you have the right people in the right positions working toward the right goals. It is the tool your business needs to fuel employee engagement and achieve positive business results.
Guest post courtesy of Steve Picarde, Sr.