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talent allocation

How Talent Allocation Can Help Your Business

Many businesses lose out on productive opportunities by failing to put the right people in the right role. In the same way that you wouldn’t put a 10-year-old in charge of the grill at your family’s backyard barbecue, you wouldn’t assign HR the task of research analysis. If you put the wrong people in charge of tasks they don’t know how to do, disaster strikes.

It’s a common misconception that the most important roles in a company are always at the top of the traditional hierarchy. Someone who is four or even five steps down the “ladder” might actually contribute (unknowingly) to the key success of the organization. Worse, if that role isn’t filled with someone of the appropriate skills or competencies, then the business as a whole will suffer. Because of this, reallocating resources is not going to fix anything. Reallocating talent, on the other hand, can be the guide to ensuring that everyone is performing in a role they are most suited to.

The path to linking the talent in your business to their value might seem like a blurry one, especially if you’re not used to measuring employee success in this manner. In an attempt to clear the way for putting the right people in the right roles and recognizing which roles are important, we’ve put together a list with help from McKinsey & Company. Here are the four main steps you can take to streamline your business operations.

1. Identify your key goals and how you’re going to reach them.

This means pushing up your sleeves and taking an in-depth look at how and why your business is functioning today, how it should function in the future, and the steps that you’ll need to take to reach your destination. This initial step is about looking at what you are setting out to accomplish—whether you need to simplify your Story or align your Strategy—and taking the steps you need to succeed.

2. Locate the most value-delivering roles in your organization.

It’s important to think about roles instead of people. When identifying and measuring a company’s most valuable roles and talent, two categories come to mind: value creators and value enablers. According to McKinsey & Company, value creators do exactly what you’d think: they “generate revenue, lower operating costs, and increase capital efficiency.” Value enablers, on the other hand, complete necessary work that allows the value creators to succeed in their roles.

Instead of focusing on the traditionally-measured “top performers” in your company, identifying someone’s real value comes less from static results and more on how someone contributes to the company as a whole. Measuring success through role-specific KPIs allows you, as the leader, to measure how someone in a specific role brings value to your organization. Where a critical role sits in an organization chart is irrelevant, so long as they are executing their task to the greatest benefit of your business.

3. Once you’ve identified the roles that generate the most value for your organization, it’s time to find people to fill them.

There are two main benefits to doing this. The first benefit is that clearly defined roles lead you to look at specific talents of the people you’re interviewing. Instead of relying on hunches and broad definitions, you know exactly what you’re looking for.

The second benefit is that most companies who implement these strategies discover that 20-30% of the people who already fill high-value roles are not accustomed to the requirements of that job. That’s why taking the time to rearrange roles or hire new talent to fill those roles can also be beneficial to those who already work with you. Chances are, employees will also be happier in a role where they know they are making a difference and valued (pun intended) as such.

If that wasn’t enough to convince you, unforeseen benefits and positions often arise along the way. A product might take off more than expected or a team will discover they need another component to be more efficient. Shifts in value aren’t necessarily a bad thing either – it’s a sign that you’re getting closer to aligning your Systems (technology, processes and people) to have the greatest impact.

4. Look past implementation.

Just as John Deere looked ahead of their market and took the first step into digitized farming equipment, you should always be on the lookout for ways to improve. You implemented role-specific KPIs for a reason, and whether you have to meet every month or every week to examine their results and look for ways to update or adapt, the work is still never finished. Putting the right people in the right roles depends on factors unique to that individual time. Developments, changes with your company’s Story, and further refinement of KPIs will all shift the way that you define what roles are the most valuable.

At the center of all these changes is the HR team, who must implement these strategies and hold everyone accountable. As someone at the head of the traditional hierarchy of the company, it’s your job to ensure that the HR team has sufficient capabilities to uphold these tactics. Even at the bare minimum, a quarterly review of talent allocation is a must.

The trick to implementing all of these strategies is to view them not as a bonus to your business, but as something that is essential to it. You, as a leader, do not exist to tell people what to do, but rather to facilitate resources so your employees can use their talents to provide the best value for your business. This is the ideal: where everyone fits into the grand scheme of your business and their talent and work are recognized.

Want to understand how a little disruption can have a huge impact? Download our use-as-is 3S Playbook for Transformational Marketers here or check out a preview of my new book ‘Marketing, Interrupted’ here.

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