Workforce Planning: Part 2 – Setting a Strategic Direction

6 mins read

This article introduces you to why setting a strategic direction for the company is important to the workforce planning process.

In part 1 of this series, we discussed the importance of having a workforce planning process implemented in order for your business to reduce the risk of falling behind on organizational goals, objectives and deliverables. In this article, we are going to review the first manageable step to take before you develop a workforce plan which is Setting a Strategic Direction including SMART Goals.

Remember, developing an effective workforce plan can be an intimidating process due to the various moving parts and complexities involved when evaluating the business and planning for the future, however, you do not have to do it alone!

Step 1.1: Setting a Strategic Direction

Typically, before a business starts its Workforce Planning process, it should have a strategic direction identified, which the organizational goals and objectives are aligned to. If your business has yet to define the direction that you want your business to go it, we suggest dedicating time to determine what direction you want your business to go, which will help you down the road to identify what the workforce may require. Begin by asking key evaluating questions such as:

    • What direction is my business going?
    • What is the current state of my company?
    • What are we currently doing that is / is not working?
    • What does the future look like, is my vision clear?
    • Have I identified areas for investment and areas that need improvement?
    • What would I want my business to achieve in the upcoming year, 3 years, or even 5 years?
    • How is the organization going to grow? Are we pursuing growth or new business?
    • Do my business’s responsibilities match the availability of the current resources?
    • How efficient is my business from an operational standpoint?
    • What are the biggest roadblocks the businesses face?
    • How well do we analyze our competition? Do we strategically differentiate from the competition?
    • What could disrupt the business from going the right direction?
    • How can we improve on the services we provide?
    • How will we engage and empower the current talent we have?
    • How well does my business utilize its current workforce to improve, stay competitive, and strategically meet goals?

Setting a strategic direction can be difficult as it involves evaluating your business and asking yourself hard questions. Which is why we recommend taking your time and asking for feedback from your leadership team, department heads, or internal/external stakeholders… don’t be afraid to lean on this to support you in setting a strategic direction. It can be hard to ask for help sometimes, as many people put emphasis and create stories in their heads that it displays weakness, which is not true!

We would like to remind you that people like the feeling of bringing value and contributing to the success of something, which is why it’s a great option to collaborate with others and get their input and vision. When you involve others in this process, it can bring awareness to different facets of the business that you, by yourself, may not have considered. Your strategic direction sets the precedence for how your organization determines its SMART Goals and Objectives.

Step 1.2: Company Goals and Objectives

Once you have determined your businesses strategic direction, you can begin setting your organization’s SMART Goals and Objectives to support it. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based; each element of this framework works in conjunction to create goals that are carefully planned, clear, and trackable to achieve your businesses desired outcomes.

We suggest dedicating time to setting your organization’s SMART Goals, as all other steps taken in the workforce plan are dependent on the results. To learn more on SMART Goals, we recommend reading our series on Tips on Setting SMART Goals for Your Business Plan.

When you have completed setting a strategic direction and establishing SMART Goals for your business, you now have a foundation on which you can align your company’s workforce plan to.

Please remember that you are not in this process alone! As mentioned above, involve others in this process to support you in identifying what direction your business is going and what your organization’s goals and objective are. This type of collaboration creates awareness of the company’s future plans and helps leaders align their departments talent strategy with the desired outcomes.

It is best practice to communicate your businesses vision and pertinent future plans to the whole company, as this will assist departments and employees to align their goals to support the businesses overall success!

Now that you understand why it is important to set your businesses strategic direction before developing your workforce plan, stay tuned for part 3 of this series. As we will be discussing the second manageable step in making sure your strategic workforce plan is effective, which is Identifying Potential Talent Gaps.

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