Editor's Insights: Aligning Workforce Strategies to Organizational Objectives

HRIQ readers weigh in on the best ways to align workforce strategies with business objectives.

What are the best ways to integrate workforce and business performance data into your analytics tools? And how do you align workforce strategies with business objectives?

Michele Hill,
Meeting, Conference, Event and Wedding Coordination in Moab Utah

"In my organization, the employee can submit for Pay for Performance. The employee takes an idea to the supervisor, that provides not only self-improvement, it also benefits the workplace. Goals are written out. These are measured and reviewed quarterly. So raises are not automatic and the employee is invested in the 'approved' objectives."

Byron H Pull FCMA FStratPS CGMA,
Turn Around and Company Growth Consultant

"The analysis is one that is probably left until last (or not at all), after the business Strategy has been decided. Part of the reason I think is that the analysis is considered ‘fluffy’ by many people, and the scene is variable, with people joining and leaving, possessing different skill sets and both hard and soft.

Analysis of this side of the business is complex, and requires as much attention as any other part. Integration should be to the strategies and objectives, but I believe that the softer skills should also be included, both at strategic and at objective level. The business ethos can be a powerful tool in developing a business-- get that wrong, and the business will not perform as required even with the best business strategy! An example would be being too soft in creative businesses, (with staff potentially not working well under strict targets) or too hard (i.e., in engineering businesses, where the performance is no less skilful, but possibly more controllable). Communication is key in the integration, both as to targets and performance feedback, which may also lead to a change in the recruitment policy where gaps appear."

Deborah L. Brigham, Process Quality Manager at Equifax

This is a tough question that is faced by many companies large and small. One of the things that would make this easier is to ensure business objectives are measurable. For example, if the Business Objective is to be number one in customer satisfaction, how is this measured? Is it every customer, or the top ten customers? Once you have a measurable objective, then the workforce objectives can be measured and support the business objectives. I have seen too many organizations that have an ambiguous, their objective. Only if objectives are measurable and the workforce objectives go hand in hand with the business objectives can the business objectives be achieved."

Steve Novak, President at PPR Management Services

"This is often talked about (including by me), but not as easily put into practice. I interviewed one company for my next book that has a great process to do this:

The organization first develops or updates their strategic plan. Then each of the main departments that report directly to the CEO develops their department plans that must align with the goals defined in the strategic plan. It is clearly stated, this department objective aligns with that goal in the strategic plan. This then flows down to lower-level departments, and on to individual workers. The workers develop their own Individualized Strategic Plan with guidance from their supervisors and department heads. This way, the alignment from the top flows all the way down to every individual."

Gopala Krishnan, Leadership Development, Change Management, Coaching & Mentoring Author and Speaker

"Businesses are good in developing broad objectives but fail miserably in getting all departments to fully align with broad objectives. Many organizations are in denial mode on this matter. They claim they are aligned-- but they are only partially right. The alignment is not formally done.

The way forward is a formal alignment.
You may want to refer to ISO9000 Quality Management Requirements.

- Each department needs to develop their objectives that are aligned to the broader objective. Development of departmental objectives needs to be done with key members of the department. The objectives have to be discussed, negotiated and agree at the senior management level. The agreed-upon departmental objectives need to be communicated back to the team to ensure alignment.

- Develop action plans that support the departmental objectives. The action plans must also be in support of the business action plans. These should cover four areas: People, Process, Procedure and Product (or Service).

- Develop departmental KPIs. Consolidate all the departmental action plans into one master action plan. The consolidated plans will provide an insight if there are similar actions in other departments.It should also give an indication if the departments are over-ambitious in their pursuit, or not going the extra mile. Communicate the final actions to the teams and ensure that everyone is on-board with the actions-- everyone should be clear of their role and responsibilities in implementing the actions and delivering the results

- Appoint/assign a gate-keeper who will track the implementation of actions and KPI achievement. A monthly performance report should be prepared and tabled for senior management review. The performance report should not only confined to financial results, but also includes the four aspects of an organizational system: People, Process, Procedure and Product/Service. The report should include a Green, Yellow and Red flag. This will indicate areas where the actions are, respectively, on track, potential danger and danger area. The Performance Specialist should discuss with the department heads on red and yellow flags and seek corrective and preventive actions, and the status of corrective and preventive actions need to be stated in the performance report.

- The senior management should review the performance report on a regular basis (should be monthly). Focus on red flags and also yellow flags and the status of corrective and preventive actions. If a department is consistently lagging in actions, then management intervention becomes necessary.

- Finally, Communicate/Recognize and Reward— Communicate to the workforce on the progress of the actions and results. Don't forget to give due recognition for members who have given outstanding role in the actions."