Welcome to this week’s issue of Talent Edge Weekly - the weekly eNewsletter for strategic human resources practitioners, bringing together talent insights from various sources.

This issue includes commentary and references on: workforce planning, succession management, hiring trends, employee turnover, leadership models, new-role transitions, executive compensation, and talent strategy.

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Brian Heger leads Strategic Talent, Workforce Planning, and Analytics for a Fortune 150 organization. To connect with Brian on Linkedin, click here.



This article provides an expanded view of workforce planning by introducing a 6 step approach to "work-task planning." While strategic workforce planning approaches usually include the first 3 steps: 1) Business Strategy, 2) Strategic Capabilities, and 3) Critical Roles, the work-task planning concept dives deeper by deconstructing these roles into 4) Tasks (the core components of what the role does) and then specific 5) Activities ( key activities of accomplishing the tasks in terms of actions and behaviors.) The purpose of getting to the "activity" level is to isolate which tasks require strategic, creative, and unique solutions that are more likely to be done by full-time employees who become a source of strategic differentiation. For the remaining tasks that are routine and standard, other options for delivering that work are considered, including technology-enabled solutions, outsourced workers, etc. This framework helps to evaluate and determine which work delivery options are most optimal.


In this article, Gartner outlines 5 risks that can detract from an organization’s succession planning efforts. While each risk is important, there is one that I want to expand on: “Lack of transparency around succession management.” This refers to an organization’s philosophy on whether to communicate to an employee that he/she has been identified as a successor. Although some organizations do have a talent philosophy where they openly communicate to a high-potential or future leader they’ve been identified as a successor, many organizations still don’t inform successors. One reason often cited for not communicating is: “If I tell an employee he/she has been identified as a successor, am I promising something I might not be able to deliver?” While this is a reasonable concern, not informing a successor has drawbacks in most cases, not the least of which is a weakened ability to facilitate targeted development efforts. And, although some unique situations might restrict what can be shared and when, there is opportunity to develop more comfort with informing successors and acknowledge that we are simply having a conversation about possible future scenarios, not making promises. How this gets communicated is what is important. What is your philosophy? 


For those of you who haven't seen enough leadership models over the years, this reference from the HR Trend Institute has compiled a list of nearly 100 models. In looking at these models, it is interesting to see 1) the enormous overlap across the models, and 2) in many cases, the large number of leadership capabilities and behaviors we are expecting of leaders and suggesting that are of equal importance. With all the investments in leadership models and leadership development over the years, it is concerning that organizations still experience significant challenges in building leadership capability fast enough to keep pace with the needs of their business. As organizations evaluate their own leadership models, it is a good opportunity to ask: What vital few things do our leaders need to be exceptional at in order to: 1) successfully respond to the shifting demands and challenges they face in their roles 2) accelerate the delivery of strategic capabilities and business strategy and 3) foster an organizational culture that enables business strategy execution as well as the behaviors and ways of working that are important to us as a company. Questions like these can help pinpoint the vital few leadership capabilities versus the trivial many.


While this Glassdoor report was released at the end of 2019, I wanted to lift it back up since it provides a good reminder of hiring trends as well as challenges and opportunities. The report includes a list of 8 HR and recruiting trends for 2020 and what’s likely to shape the coming decade. Trend # 5 "Recruiters will adapt as 65+ Baby Boomers become the fastest-growing workforce" - a trend the report calls the “gray wave.” According to the report, this segment of the workforce is expected to grow by 61% over the next decade, compared to 5.5% for the overall American workforce. Likewise, in the UK, the 65+ population is expected to rise nearly 60% over the next 25 years, faster than any other demographic group. Given this trend, recruiting and talent acquisition strategists should ask and answer: What strategies can we employ to attract the booming 65+ workforce, so that we can address talent shortages and use this as a competitive advantage? 


Although the drivers of employee turnover can vary by employee segment and industry, this list of 40 employee turnover statistics enables a better understanding of the topic and provides a reference point and context for evaluating an organization's employee turnover. The data points are organized by 9 categories ranging from 1) General Stats- e.g., between 60-70% of all employee turnover is voluntary, 2) Impact of Manager on Turnover - e.g., 77% of employees with poor managers say they hope to leave their job soon, 3) Impact of Employee Onboarding on Turnover - e.g., 69% of employees are more likely to stay at a company for three years if they experience a good onboarding process. These and the remaining 37 stats provide a well-done compilation of information that can be used to understand the drivers and impact of employee turnover as well as employee engagement, employee retention, and employee experience. 


One lever of effective talent management is the ability to incentivize and motivate employees to achieve an organization's financial goals and business strategy. In the context of executives, this primarily happens through executive compensation. In this HBR article, the question is raised: Have conventional, performance-based, long-term equity plans that pay out against financial and 3-year strategic achievements gone out of date? The article's position is that they have. The rationale is that in an era where radical strategic transformation and agility are required in order to address the fast pace of change (e.g. new competitors, advances in technology, etc.), conventional plans are too inflexible to allow for quick strategic pivots that are in the best interest of an organization's long-term mission. As such, the author argues that these plans should be tied to the corporate mission, not a strategy--in order to enable these pivots to happen. The article elaborates on this position further and the ideas provide a good reference for HR , Talent Management and Total Rewards leaders as they evolve their executive compensation philosophy and practices.


Although I wrote this article a couple of years ago, the information is still useful for developing a talent strategy that enables business strategy execution. The article points out how 1) business strategy - a firm’s strategic focus, informs 2) strategic capabilities - the vital few things an organization must do best to execute its business strategy, determine 3) talent implications - the various ways in which talent can be leveraged to enable strategic capabilities), guide 4) talent strategy - 3-5 talent-related outcomes that support business strategy execution. For each talent strategy outcome, there are time-frames for delivery, owners for execution, and measures to evaluate impact. Practitioners can use this framework to develop their talent strategy and/or evaluate or refine their existing one.


In this 17 minute podcast, ideas are shared on how risk of failure in job transitions continue to be surprisingly high. In particular, there are two primary types of risks: 1) Scope Risk - when the role requires someone to do something new or for the first time and 2) Scale Risk - when the role requires the person to do what he/she has done in a previous role, just at something much, much bigger. For each risk, mitigation strategies are discussed, with awareness of the risk being the foundational component. One idea I want to add to this "risk" concept is: when someone is transitioning into a new role, identify upfront the risks that a) one is most likely to face given his/her individual situation and b) that if quickly mitigated would disproportionately accelerate a successful transition into the role. In essence, visualize a 2x2 matrix where one axis is "likelihood of risk" and the other is "impact of risk." For risks that are highly likely and have greater impact, mitigation strategies can be incorporated into one's transition/onboarding plan. Depending on the risk, the strategies selected are likely to be different.


After publishing an article on strategic workforce planning (SWP) in the Fall 2019 edition of People + Strategy, I continue to get asked: what additional resources or books would you recommend on SWP and that would help me to develop this capability within my organization? This week, I want to highlight Ross Sparkman's book on the topic. In his book, Ross (who previously led workforce planning at Facebook and who now leads SWP for Linkedin) does an excellent job in providing an array of information and ideas on SWP ranging from: 1) fundamental components (what is SWP, why is it important, challenges faced in SWP, aligning SWP to corporate strategy), to 2) operationalizing a SWP function with structure, roles and responsibilities, and the right skills, to 3) more advanced concepts such as understanding supply/demand, workforce segmentation, total cost of workforce, and skills- based workforce planning. The book will provide value to both those who are new to SWP as well as experienced SWP practitioners who are looking for ideas on how to evolve their organizations' SWP strategies and capabilities.


If you have an article, report, or resource that you recommend, please send me an email at [email protected]. I would love to review it and share it in a future newsletter.

And, if you have any ideas or suggestions for this newsletter, please feel free to send me a note.


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I look forward to sharing more ideas in next week’s Edge.

Have a great weekend!