5 Ways To Assess Talent and Build for the Future

When you design an organization, the journey is as important as the destination. As you align business objectives and priorities to your strategy, engage your team early and often to drive clarity and gather strategic insights and solutions. From there, you can develop the framework needed to scale and future-proof your company, while anticipating how changes will impact people and day-to-day operations.

Steve Browne, VP HR, aLaRosas and author of HR on Purpose: Developing Deliberate People Passion explains: “Great organization design looks at where the organization has been, where it currently is and where it could potentially go.”

Here are 5 ways to develop and intentionally shape your team for future success:

1. Shape the Strategy

Developing a great strategy starts with asking the right questions. How do the areas of responsibility for your team align with the broader company goals? What is working and what needs to change? What are the values and desired outcomes that will guide the future organization? Answering these questions requires a self-critical review of your company strengths, weaknesses and opportunities.

Other key questions to ask:

  • Do employees understand the strategy?
  • How agile are the competitors? What are the needs of your customers, and how are those needs evolving? What is shifting in the industry, and how is the company responding?
  • Does the structure enable agile response to customer needs? What are the blockers holding you back?

Design the strategy framework then align it with the employee experience. Communication is critical to connect people to the purpose of the strategy. Browne advises: “Organizations tend to communicate the top-level strategies and then expect employees to just ‘get it’. This is because we feel that taking the time to explain things is counterproductive and a waste of time. It’s so far from the truth.”

Successfully scaling your team requires continuous feedback and buy-in from leaders to make ideas from the team and strategies actionable. “Once strategies are introduced, it’s key to have ongoing follow up.” Browne recommends. “I try to show that strategy (like most things in a company) are actually on a continuum versus something that starts/stops. It’s important for people to understand that there is a flow to business. To acknowledge that change is all around us is much more comfortable than making your culture a series of initiatives and programs. In the end, those may have a life for a time, but they won’t be sustainable.”

Dan Spaulding, Chief People Officer of Zillow, recommends seeking another point of view or different perspective: “Sometimes it is best to get outside help, whether it is someone from another part of your organization or a consultant – you just may be too close to the work and team and need some fresh eyes.”

[Related: How To Communicate With Your Candidates in 2018]

2. Research and Leverage Data

Leverage people data to measure performance and identify organizational opportunities. Did the data show any trends for certain groups or identify unconscious biases? For example, were there a disproportionate number of high or low performing employees in different categories (diverse employees, job levels, etc.)? Evaluate succession plans, performance ratings, rewards, attrition, diversity data, career advancement opportunities and promotion velocity.

3. Team Assessment

Conduct a team assessment to ensure you have the depth of experience, skills and knowledge base to steer the company into its future. “Assessing your team requires evaluation at all levels,” explains Spaulding. “And a thorough examination of the what skills and capabilities will be needed to move the team forward.”

There are many ways to assess the talent within your team. In addition to reviewing performance by career level and job function, seek out input from other leaders or peers who worked with your team to get unbiased feedback around performance.

As you assess your team, the focus should be on development and areas for improvement. Identify areas that are less efficient, address gaps and remove bottlenecks within the hierarchy of the organization that impede progress.

Ask:

  • Are the leaders effective, resourceful and innovative?
  • Do you have a succession plan in place for critical roles if someone leaves unexpectedly? If the bench strength and talent pipeline are razor thin, then it’s time to invest in building talent capability.
  • Who are the top three and bottom three performers?
  • Are the right people in the right roles?

4. Individual Assessment

Becoming an effective leader requires ongoing reflection and introspection. When decisions are made regarding promotions, internal movements or stretch assignments, performance or potential, dive deep into the rationale. Encourage discussion about how the employee developed or transformed.

Ask:

  • Were the employee’s goals appropriate for their scope, experience and level?
  • Are the examples consistent?
  • How dated are the examples? Are you playing “old tapes” or holding grudges?
  • If that person were to interview today, would you hire them again?

Maximize the untapped talent and versatility of your available bench strength. Identify high performing and high potential employees to match critical roles and energize future growth. Harness each individual’s talent by focusing on their unique strengths and potential.

“Do your best to place people in roles that have responsibility, depth and reach.” Browne adds. Being intentional on identifying the strengths of people and their approach to others and work are key. You can always teach skills, but you can’t teach character. Great org design looks at people as a whole.”

[Related: 9 Effective Ways to Assess Candidates’ Soft Skills]

5. Implement and Evaluate Success

Once you set the team strategy and assess overall talent, the next step is to implement changes across your team. Refine and evaluate success, while ensuring teams are agile, empowered and well-positioned to evolve with your business.

Tammy Perkins is the Managing Partner and Chief People Officer of Fjuri, a marketing consultancy focused on helping clients to imagine the future of business, enhance marketing strategy and execution by tapping into big data in a more powerful way. Prior to joining Fjuri, Tammy worked with major brands and startups including Amazon, Microsoft and Appen — leading HR and talent acquisition during periods of high growth and transformation. Find her on Twitter @FjuriGroup and LinkedIn. Tammy can also be reached at tammy@fjurigroup.com

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