Launch into the New Year (Part 3)

When I think of year-end, I see a time of slowing down. Getting ready to spend time with family and friends. Cold days, warm nights by a fire, great food. Holidays tend to get us thinking about traditions, old and new, and reflecting on the past year – personally and professionally.

Reflecting on 2021 can be difficult. We all hoped we were through with this at the end of 2020, but once again we’ve experienced a year filled with unique trials. The pandemic continues to entangle itself in and around our lives.  The numbers are up; the numbers are down. There’s another new variant. Toilet paper is back in stock, but arrival dates for items being shipped are a best guess, rather than the assurances we were accustomed to.

It’s no different in the world of work.  Employees are resigning at alarming rates; engagement is at an all-time low; burnout is felt by everyone at every level; and balancing WFH, hybrid, and return-to-office has been challenging at best.  Executives are asking: “Have we accomplished what we set out to do? How did our budget forecast compare to actuals?” And when those answers are “no” and/or “not well”, they wonder why not.

The answer to that why not is, unfortunately, that many business leaders don’t take talent, their people, into consideration when setting and implementing plans and policies. Business strategies are adjusted to align with economic forecasts, customer demands, supply chain challenges, and other industry-specific drivers. Why don’t we take our people into account?

When I led a global HR team, I often identified to my executive team colleagues the gaps between the business strategy and the capabilities of the workforce. Despite hiring competent, qualified, educated, and skilled employees, we stopped short of aligning their skills in a way that would help the organization attain success. Too often our leaders and top talent were busy in the day-to-day and not focusing on executing the business strategy to completion. Business strategy doesn’t take care of itself. Everyone is responsible for their part of attaining it.

Maybe it’s time to consider how your talent can be optimized to achieve the strategic results your organization desires.

Consider how Proactively Supporting Execution can help you achieve the desired results of your 2022 business strategy.

  • Identify potential gaps in the leadership team’s ability to execute and determine how to overcome these barriers to successfully executing the strategy. Consider, for instance, the impact of a leader who not only knows the strengths, weaknesses, and passions of her team, but also knows how to best make use of them in reaching the portion of strategic goals impacted by her team.
  • Build the leadership team’s abilities. Take advantage of each leader’s natural strengths; have team members expand beyond their current comfort zones with new experiences, projects, or programs; leverage the bench strength of your entire organization (find and engage future leaders); and create guardrails and processes to support achieving results.
  • Measure your leadership teams’ confidence in their ability to execute to the designed strategy. Is there buy-in or push back? If leadership is not on board, you will never be able to engage the rank-and-file. Talk about the concerns and develop communication and feedback tools to address them.
  • Identify, and reinforce, the cultural behaviors that support the strategy. Continuously communicate the integration between culture, behaviors, and strategic goal achievement in a way that speaks to the audience to which it is directed. If your audience is mostly high school graduates or holders of Bachelors’ degrees, a message that is written for doctoral candidates will not be effective.

Companies That Align Talent with Business Strategy Outperform Others by 16%, Retain 30% More Top-Performers, and See 34% Higher Employee Performance.[1]

Aligning employees’ strengths to impact the business strategy is a huge part of talent optimization; yet many companies struggle to achieve significant alignment. The front lines of the organization may not be at all in tune with what leadership THINKS it is communicating, and this is a serious negligence. Lack of understanding should not automatically be thought to be the fault of the front lines. Everyone suffers when communication is not clear and consistent, and, oftentimes, when the business strategy doesn’t match the talent pool (or vice versa), the company realizes failed business results.

Consider strategy execution at your organization.  In most cases, senior leaders create the strategy, then trickle it down through the organization until it ultimately reaches the people on the front lines. But ask any person on the front line what the strategy is, and you’re likely to be met with blank stares and confusion.

Clearly these companies aren’t doing a good job of aligning talent strategy and business strategy.

Remember playing the “telephone” game as a child? The first kid in line whispers something into the ear of the next child, and so on and so forth until the last kid has to say aloud what he or she heard – which is invariably different from – and often nowhere near - the original message.

The communication of business strategy too often resembles this game—only we’re not kids anymore, and this time it’s for keeps.  While you plan for the financial successes of your business, be sure everyone understands the organization’s strong “why”, and how their specific jobs impact the overall success of the company. Then provide opportunities for your team to individually embrace, engage with, and execute the plans.

Want to look at your organization differently? Take the initiative and touch base with me. I’ll help you find your path to reach your full potential. And we’ll have fun on the journey of discovery.

Let’s move forward. Together.


P.S.  Book a Complimentary Strategy Session so we can get you moving in the right direction; click on my Complimentary Strategy Session calendar link here and let’s book a time together so you can get started today!a

P.P.S. With over three decades of professional experience in corporate operations and executive human resources, I am a proven results-driven leader. My expertise includes strategy, change management, talent management and organizational development, employee relations, and executive and leadership coaching. I am a highly effective communicator and team leader with demonstrated ability to build long-term relationships across internal and external customer environments built with integrity, confidence, authenticity, and trust.


[1] 2020 State of Talent Optimization Report