The secrets to building a winning talent strategy

by: Ashley McCann

The quality, satisfaction, and positioning of an organization’s talent is often the deciding factor of its ultimate success. You can invest heavily in recruitment, excel at interviewing, and hire employees with the ideal traits. But you might still fail to create an environment that leverages behavioral data to its full potential.

True talent strategy extends far beyond recruiting and hiring top talent. 

Ideally, effective workforce planning includes the execution of a talent strategy that aligns with the goals of your organization, enhancing the employee experience, improving retention rates, and future-proofing your business. 

What is a talent strategy?

At its most basic level, talent strategy is the plan used to recruit, hire, onboard, and retain employees. However, a real talent strategy goes far beyond filling open positions. Rather, it considers an organization’s initiatives, the strengths and weaknesses of various teams, the skill gaps in certain roles, talent development opportunities, and how to improve the overall employee experience. It’s a lot to consider.

Talent strategy shouldn’t be limited to HR professionals. The entire leadership team should be invested in the creation and development of your talent plan, to ensure long-term success. Too often, hiring and managing talent is considered the responsibility of Human Resources alone. But aligning talent strategy and business strategy is the key to achieving business objectives, and should be a collective effort. That means HR leaders have a seat at the executive table.

There are a lot of levers to pull when it comes to attracting, placing, upskilling, and retaining the right talent. A comprehensive talent strategy considers the big picture—how each of these factors influences the employee experience, in addition to stated business goals.

Why is talent strategy important?

There’s a reason an organization’s employees are referred to as human capital—talent is an asset, and a worthy investment. The people who work for your organization have tremendous influence on business outcomes. Hiring and retaining top talent has a broad range of potential benefits, from company culture to profits. 

When you take the time to pair the right people with the right position, make an effort to foster a positive work environment, and consistently invest in professional development, employees feel valued. That, in turn, increases job satisfaction and improves employee engagement. 

However, an effective talent management strategy also gives businesses a competitive advantage by strengthening the employer’s brand, making it easier to attract new talent, while helping with succession planning and leadership development from within the organization. 

Creating and implementing a comprehensive talent strategy is a mutually beneficial endeavor between employer and employee. 

Talent strategy vs. talent management and talent optimization

Talent strategy is the plan an organization makes for sourcing, hiring, training, and retaining talent. 

Distinctively, talent management is the active process of implementing a talent strategy, and it’s usually a collective effort between HR professionals, managers, and anyone else involved in hiring.

Talent optimization takes those concepts to the next level by aligning talent strategy and business strategy to achieve desired results. 

A truly effective talent strategy evolves. It recognizes that people’s behavioral tendencies make them good for certain roles. But as they learn and develop new skills, they may grow out of those roles. When they’re ready for new challenges, those behaviors are just as important to success as the skills they’ve learned. Skills can be taught; behaviors often cannot.

“Aligning talent strategy and business strategy is the key to achieving business objectives, and should be a collective effort.”

What kind of talent strategy is best for you?

Your exact strategy will vary based on the needs of your business. But if you’re looking for a basic plan of action, you can start with the following steps: 

Identify business objectives.

You must know where you’re going in order to decide how to get there. Consider your business goals for the next year, and then the next five years. Determine how each department factors into those goals, and define what long-term business success looks like for your organization. 

Match talent to your objectives.

Take inventory of the talent you have. Decide which roles are critical to achieving your goals, which skills or behaviors would be most helpful, and how many people are necessary. 

Diagnose talent obstacles.

Collect information and gather data about your current team to help identify potential misalignments or weaknesses. Employee engagement surveys, team assessment tools, performance reviews, management interviews, and behavioral assessments are all valuable resources in this process.

Create a plan of action.

After identifying your organization’s strengths and weaknesses, decide what you need to focus on, in order of importance. Get input from key stakeholders, and identify any additional tools, technology, or expertise you need to execute the plan.

Keys to an effective talent strategy

There are a lot of different factors to consider when creating a talent strategy, but the following pieces are especially crucial. Make sure your talent strategy takes the following into account: 

A defined business strategy

Having a clearly articulated idea of the business outcomes you hope to achieve is an essential starting point. Decide what your organization is missing, or needs to improve upon, in order to make progress toward those goals. 

Labor needs

While keeping your intended outcomes in mind, assess your current staff and identify any current or upcoming staffing needs by addressing gaps in critical competencies, roles, or leadership positions. 

Recruiting and hiring

Evaluate your current hiring workflow, and strategize about how to enhance and expand your access to the existing talent pool. Improve sourcing strategies and refine the interviewing process to ensure that you’re selecting top talent for open roles. 

Onboarding and development

Make a solid first impression, and empower new employees in their new position with an organized, well-communicated onboarding process—one that includes proper training and demonstrates the core values of your organization. Add to that momentum by continuing to help all employees expand their skill sets through ongoing professional development opportunities. 

Retention and engagement

There are many different facets to creating a positive employee experience, from compensation to company culture. Create an environment where employees feel valued, present a clearly defined career path for each role, and offer compensation and benefits that are comparable to competitors. In doing so, you’ll also improve employee satisfaction and retention rates. 

Succession planning

Prioritizing professional development and creating a positive work environment that values communication and feedback makes it easier to hire from within when positions that require advanced skills or leadership roles become available. Training current employees for future roles creates an in-house talent pool already equipped with the competencies, experience, and values that are important to your organization. 

How PI helps create a lasting talent strategy

PI’s tools help you hire with more certainty, build and manage teams more effectively, and increase engagement through feedback and communication. 

As a pre-employment testing tool, PI Hire helps you pinpoint the right person for the right role, by putting behavioral data to work for you. Copy and paste your job description to set your ideal candidate benchmark. Use behavioral assessments to understand candidates and how they align with your needs, and streamline the decision-making process with interview questions rooted in people-centered data. 

PI Design helps you build and manage the best teams possible by learning more about your management style and discovering your team’s strengths and weaknesses. Get insight insights about potential misalignments, as well as action items to close any gaps. 

Collect anonymous feedback with PI Diagnose, and track your organization’s overall engagement health with science-based pulse surveys. See how you stack up against other companies based on 25,000 industry benchmarks, and make improvements that not only enhance your employer brand, but help you gain a competitive edge when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent. 

A talent optimization platform ensures that your talent strategy is comprehensive without becoming cumbersome, so that you can focus on building the type of business people want to be a part of.