The Need for a People Strategy

The Need for a People Strategy

Key question for you: What is your organization’s strategy for ensuring it has the right talent for this decade? My bet is that it doesn’t have one.

Every organization has some sort of business strategy and most likely a technology and sales strategy. Yet most do not have a people strategy.

A people strategy is not an HR strategy. HR strategies are about building programs, meeting short term people needs, and deciding on technologies that help meet current needs.

The Conference Board has recently released its global survey of CEOs and what they are most concerned about. The scarcity of talent and the difficulty in finding qualified people was their top internal concern..

A people strategy can go a long way to alleviate their fears by laying out the plan to improve the agility, capability and competence of the workforce and to focus on filling current talent needs as well as on anticipating the future people needs of the organization. It requires asking and answering some tough questions that will require senior leadership participation and agreement

The eleven questions I pose below are key to ensuring that the organization has the most qualified people and the resilience to survive the future.. The answers need to to be more than ill-defined lists of values or vague and untested employee value propositions. They are deeply thought out agreements and beliefs that an organization has about its people and how they are hired, developed and nurtured. As much as possible they are based on actual data and fact, not opinion.

The answers to question1 and 2 lay the foundation to answer the others. The answers to question 7 will guide the choice of technology and its implementation. Questions 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 are the key to developing a recruitment strategy as well as a people development process. Questions 6, 7 & 8 are tough ones but the answers are important to guide hiring and layoff decision, whether or not to replace attrition, and who to spend time and money on developing. And Questions 8 and 10 lay out future directions and actions.

#1. What is your general philosophy about employees? What types of people are going to build the future your organziation wants.

#2. What is your philosophy about automation & outsourcing people functions? What gets automated and what doesn’t?

#3. What does the future of work look like in/for your organization? What new jobs are likely to emerge? Where is yout R&D and business strategy heading?

#4. What potential skills will your organization need in the next 5 years that don’t currently exist?

#5. How will you prepare to get or develop those skills? How do you build capability? Do your HR polices support the strategy and provide incentives?

#6. What are your most critical job types today? What is the probability that these will be in same in 5 years??

#7. Which positions could be automated or outsourced?

#8: Which positions should always be filled with a permanent employee and which positions could be filled with a contingent worker - a contractor a consultant, or a part-timer worker?

#9. Which positions can be augmented/robotized to a large degree with well-chosen A.I.-enabled tools?

#10. How many people will be replaced or fewer needed because of anticipated automation? Be very real with this. How will you communicate this and ensure a soft landing for the people who are replaced?

#11. Do you have scenario plans for possible future people needs along with plans to meet the needs?

As a new decade begins, it would be wise go offsite for a day or two with key HR, recruiting, people development, and business leaders to address these questions and begin to draft a written people strategy along with scenarios.

It might save your organization - and your job.

If you want to discuss this further or would like some help with this, contact us at or me personally at


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