Business is a balancing act comprised of trade offs, often competing objectives, and strategic decision-making. As the war for talent rages and the demographics of the workforce continue to change, the candidate and employee experience have shifted from being just HR considerations to being business considerations. Therefore, today’s executives should consider aligning their talent strategies with business strategies as the means by which overall business objectives can be obtained. 

In fact, a recent study found that while 72% of executives believe their company value is directly derived from their employees, only 12% of companies actually connect their talent strategies to their business strategies–leaving much in the way of efficiency from a people and business standpoint on the table. 

As leaders focus on positioning their organizations for maximum productivity, there are four tenets that should be considered to align talent and business strategy to ensure optimal business results:

Diagnose the problem

Taking inventory of where things stand across an organization and stacking it up against where things should be is the first step in developing an actionable talent plan. To determine what’s working and what needs to be adjusted from a strategic talent standpoint make sure you have the right data. Using behavioral assessments can help bring objectivity and scientific validation to people practices. Software that captures the unique personalities and drivers of prospective and current employees helps companies stay on top of winning behaviors and develop cohesive teams. 

People data also contributes to greater self-awareness and can be leveraged to improve working relationships by allowing leaders to tailor their coaching to individual preferences. 

For example, managers might have a team member whose innate drive creates a need to avoid making mistakes. They will want to understand expectations and the right way to get the job done. With objective data about how that employee thinks and works, managers can put an emphasis on structure, process and systems.

Design winning teams 

Historically, executives haven’t taken the time to deliberately design leadership, culture and team dynamics based on their people. Instead, they focus their energies on meeting financial goals. Stepping back to evaluate key learnings, successes and failures is the basis for a successful business and focusing on people as the backbone of the business is a great place to start. Looking at the company’s culture and what attracts and keeps employees, while also consistently reviewing talent across the organization, will set businesses up for long term success and help build trust.

According to the previously mentioned study, only 36% of companies have a talent strategy. When key performance indicators are directly tied to the people that are working towards company goals, the lack of talent strategy seems like a miss. Taking inventory of the people that make up the fabric of an organization is a surefire way to guarantee success.

Revamp the hiring process 

Starting with the right hiring and recruiting processes is the foundation of a profitable talent strategy. Unfortunately, the need to fill positions often outweighs the need to truly delve into a candidates’ fit. A study from Leadership IQ found that 46% of newly hired employees will fail within 18 months, while only 19% will achieve unequivocal success. To combat the issue of poor fit, open job roles should be defined based on organizational needs. When hiring managers have access to people data, and that data is used to match working style and personality to the open role and subsequent team, the chances of success are much higher. With the help of people data analytics, ultimately companies can attract and retain the right talent for their organization’s business strategy. 

In addition, developing a robust interview process, rather than taking a one-size fits all approach, will help hiring managers truly differentiate between candidates and make the right hire. Companies should put as much strategy into their interview process as they do a marketing or sales plan. A structured, more formal, interview process helps uncover job fit by allowing the interview team to dig into specific criteria necessary to be successful in the role and at the organization. In addition, leadership teams should also ensure talent is a regular conversation point in planning and strategy meetings. After all, a business strategy is only as good as the people who execute it.

Inspire the organization 

A top driver of employee disengagement is team misalignment, an unfortunate byproduct of teams thrown together out of convenience rather than unique working styles. Employees that have access to their own talent optimization data are able to take advantage of the tools needed to manage themselves and their workplace relationships. Winning teams are comprised of a variety of different personalities that when stitched together intentionally result in incredible work. 

Ensuring employees feel psychologically safe across their teams is also a key differentiator between talent that thrives in a working environment versus talent that has one foot out of the door. An important factor in ensuring employees feel inspired and happy at work is pairing them with managers that complement their talent profiles. Business leaders who take the time to get in the trenches with their employees and truly want them to succeed, have a much better chance of keeping stellar people around over managers who simply go through the motions.

Realigning the organization

Leaders that commit to connecting their talent strategies to their business strategies will find that their employees and their company will flourish. Aligning both strategies helps hold businesses accountable and provides a map for leaders to reference during periods of change. Optimizing talent benefits every level of an organization and the changes that are ultimately put in place will set organizations up for long term success.