Building a Sound 2023 Talent Strategy
1. Your Business And Money
Founders, answer this part out loud to your leadership team for alignment.
If you don’t own the business, find these answers before moving on. They will serve you well in any talent endeavor.
This information is about way more than naming your industry or product, it’s how any business stays in business. Plans that align with your answers are powerful and budget-worthy, plans that don’t will be difficult and maybe even harmful to implement.
1a. What market are you in?
1b. How does your company compete within your market? Price? Value? Features?
1c. Who are your customers?
1d. What products or services actually pay the bills? Where is the company looking to grow?
1e. Who are your competitors and what are they up to?
1f. (if applicable) Where does your team/division fit in the larger scale of the business?
2. Business Outcomes > Hiring Goals
Hiring is not a goal.
It’s a tool to achieve goals.
2023 is a year to be ruthless when defining a must-have: “we cannot operate without this function” vs. a nice-to-have: “this is helpful but not core to our success.”
What are the top 3–5 strategic priorities for the business next year?
Aligning in a mixed economic market may look like any combination of the following:
- Hiring: buying new skills
- Development: growing and engaging your current team members
- Transitioning: moving people into new roles
- Reducing: RIFs, layoffs or furloughs
- Outsourcing: Using temporary or service providers for flexibility
3. Market Conditions
Depending on the industry, you might look to extend runway and delay a funding round or capitalize on the macroeconomic downturn by hiring newly available tech talent.
Here are a few thoughts on talent in choppy economic waters:
- Reduced Competition
Particularly at junior and mid-levels
- Less Voluntary Turnover
Which is nice, but not an excuse to stop on culture/engagement initiatives
- Team Bonding
When handled well, nothing bonds a team like overcoming a shared challenge
Fear is a major distraction. Your team can’t get creative or flex from a place of fear.
- Brand Blowback
Reducing team size puts your brand under a microscope, so if you need to, part ways but do so with generosity and kindness.
- Talent Constraints
In particular at the senior level where people who can, and are, willing to work at both a strategic and tactical level. For example, an engineer manager who can get in the weeds. Don’t assume that everyone will be easy to hire.
- Applicant Saturation
More applicants doesn’t always translate to more qualified applicants, so your team may spend more time than usual in reviewing resumes.
- Recruiting Challenges
Top candidates, especially those with significant tenure in their current organization, may be fearful to make a move and be tougher to recruit than you anticipate. Give yourself enough time to find, screen and onboard the right person.
4. Planning Blueprint
Plans should be built around the best current and future employees.
Low performers must be addressed quickly, but you will never win by spending the majority of your time there.
You can apply the following by department, team or company-wide.
- Map your top business goals to:
What things need to be done?
B The Skills
What technical, interpersonal or other skills are needed to complete the work?
What specific dates apply?
D. The Current State
What is the current composition of the teams involved?
E. The Risks
What internal and external risks may impact us?
F. The Gaps
What do we need to buy or build in order to meet these goals?
Selecting the right decision-makers is paramount to success here.
The ideal group is close enough to the work to understand what’s needed to execute and small enough to actually make consensus decisions.
You may find your needs apply in one or more areas of the talent journey from Employer Brand to Alumni. This planning process is a powerful tool that can be applied to every facet of your talent recruitment and retention journey, as demonstrated in the image below.
4. Making A First Draft Plan
- Ruthlessly label every idea as either “must-have” or “nice-to-have.”
- Rank the “must-have” in order of importance, no ties allowed.
- Visualize each by time horizon from immediate to long-term. Long-term in your business may be 5 years or 1 year. Use a scale that makes sense. Doing this visually will help give perspective of bandwidth as you build out ideas.
5. Assign Clear Accountability And Schedule Tests.
If talent retention is “everyone’s job,” it quite quickly becomes no one’s job.
So don’t let this plan sit on a virtual shelf somewhere! Aligning with quarterly meetings and adding to the performance cycle of those accountable is a great place to start.
And a good ol’ RACI label can help here to track who’s responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed on any given task.
Remember those check-ins you set in step 5? Those are also a chance to make changes as needed. If the goals have changed, so should the plans. The distance between reality and your plan is the answer to whether it’s time to adjust or start the planning over.
Case in point, this piece is an update to our:
And you can certainly expect an update for 2025!