Turn Your Talent Failures Into Wins (Part 1)

Corey Burns Corey Burns, Talent Strategy

It’s a new year and business leaders are goal setting and planning out the year with the best of intentions. Just after we’ve finished scrambling to “achieve” last year’s goals, we’ve rushed into planning, without the care and strategic thought the process requires: it’s like clockwork.  But our good intentions alone work about as well with planning as they do with our annual January gym memberships – they don’t! Taking the time and effort to plan correctly is where you can begin turning your talent strategy failures into wins.

Looking back at the past few years, I’ve witnessed some amazing successes as a result of my organization’s talent strategy. At the same time, there were definite shortcomings and areas that needed improvement within that strategy. Fortunately, my organization’s shortcomings have since turned into wins through realignment of our goals, our timeline, and the execution of our initiatives. One of the toughest elements of failure is admitting the true reasons why something didn’t work, but that’s also the clearest path to avoiding those same failures in the future.

Tracking, reflecting, and adjusting your talent strategy is just as important as reflecting upon your individual performance! It’s crucial to reflect and pivot when necessary in order to keep momentum heading forward. To start, break your 2017 initiatives into three categories:

  1. Organizational Talent Goals
  2. Team Goals
  3. Individual Goals (YOU)

Often I have witnessed initiatives fail due to a disconnect between the organizational goals, stakeholders, and personal goals. By categorizing your 2017 initiatives in this order, it allows you to see how each category directly impacts the other.

Now that you’ve reflected upon the 2017 initiatives within each category, begin determining which goals were accomplished and which fell short. Now start thinking about the true roadblocks that prevented you from achieving the desired results.

Here are the most common roadblocks I have personally encountered:

6 Common Roadblocks

  • You: It’s the easiest for others to point out but the hardest for you to identify and accept. If people don’t like or respect you, things aren’t starting off well! Be a solutions provider and resource and you’re on the right track.
  • Planning: Your strategy is not an email nor is email how you communicate a plan! The plan is the roadmap of your strategy and without it the strategy isn’t a strategy. However, you have to be willing to change and let the plan evolve over time.
    • No battle was ever won according to plan, but no battle was ever won without one. Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • Undefined Goals: Having a plan is one thing, but without specific goals being communicated the path forward will not be clear. Making sure everyone understands and believes in the “whyis a crucial step in a successful rollout.
  • Contradicting Vision: Your vision is a living, breathing ecosystem that provides the guiding principles for all efforts. If your efforts do not support your company vision or its goals, there’s a major issue.
  • Being a Lone Ranger: Whatever you do, don’t create a strategy without the input of your stakeholders! Once stakeholders have skin in the game, they will make your goals their own.
    • People support a world they help create. – Dale Carnegie
  • Accountability: As talent leaders, we are essentially the program managers responsible for ensuring all facets of our plans are being executed properly. This starts with clearly communicating areas of accountability for specific teams or individuals, which reduces the chance of future finger-pointing if things don’t go as planned.

Forming Your 2018 Strategy

Now that you’ve reflected on what the heck happened in 2017, it’s time to move forward with a solid plan. As with any strategy, you have to accept that you don’t have all the answers, knowledge, and new ideas needed to move the organization forward solely on your own. Instead, accept that you will require the help of the organization to turn your talent vision into reality.

To begin, imagine yourself at the end of the year and think about what your ideal world looks like. For example, you may say to yourself that at the end of 2018, we have:

  • A fully implemented ATS
  • Automated metrics for Recruiters
  • Reduced employee turnover by 10 points
  • Increased employee satisfaction index (NPS) by 4 points

Focusing on your end result helps paint the picture of your vision. The next step is to begin planning the 2018 strategy to effectively reach your end goal. Below is a quick guide I use during initial planning with teams, coupled with a “SMART” method planning approach.

Your strategy should touch both the “Continuous Improvement” and “Breakthrough Leaps” sections, as both are valuable and important.

Now that you have reflected and begun to form your new strategy, start visually mapping out the plan. This part is extremely important, because having a visual representation of your strategy will help communicate it to stakeholders, while also giving you clear understanding of when to devote time and resources to accomplish those goals.

Stay tuned for Part 2, which will dive into the communication of your talent strategy and how to get others to make it their own!