Identify your Talent Gaps in Four Steps

Written by: Rainee Busby
02 Feb 2015

You’re probably thinking, ‘what in the world are talent gaps?’ The truth is, there are tons of business owners, HR professionals, and high level executives who are thinking the same thing, and their bottom line is suffering because of it. Most have talent gaps but they don’t even know it.

It is an essential part of your business to identify your Talent Gaps so you can improve the performance of your people, which in turn will drive your business success. On the most basic level, Talent Gaps are the result of aligning your human capital with your business strategy.

To break this down even more, your human capital is an accumulation of your employee’s skills, experience, networks, education, relationships and how they bring value back to your business.

Given this definition, each employee contributes to the company’s overall value. Our job is to take a look at who provides the most value to the company while ensuring we’ve put the best person in our most valuable jobs.

The ability to identify your Talent Gaps brings you one step closer to overcoming them. Here are four steps to follow to get you and your business moving in the right direction.

Step One: Define Your Business Strategy

You and your team should have a document where this is already lined out, if you don’t you NEED to define your business strategy in order to ensure alignment and successful execution. The #1 reason strategy is not executed successfully is that it was never pushed down into the organization. Everyone needs to know their role.

Any business strategy is comprised of three sections; your on-going strategy and competitive differentiators, your goals and initiatives, and your long term planning. Focus on answering the following questions:

  • What separates you from your competition? have you done your SWOT Assessment? What were your strengths?
  • What are you trying to accomplish in the next 12 months? remember to make your goals S.M.A.R.T. If your goal is to increase clients by 25% or increase sales by 10%, you need to have your goals defined.
  • Where do you see your business in 2-3 years? Are you expanding or adding a new product line? If so look at what steps are you taking now to ensure this happens.

This goes back to our show on “Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail.” Your greatest weapon is being prepared.

Step Two: Segmentation of Roles, Responsibilities and Jobs

There are four categories that we encourage our clients to use in order to separate the jobs into buckets based on their value back to the organization. The buckets we use are Strategic, Core, Support, and Surplus.

When you use these categories it is important that you have clear definitions of each. Take into consideration each role’s impact on your revenue in addition to the level of risk each role presents.

  • Strategic – They have a direct impact on your ability to execute your strategy.
  • Core – This is a key contributor to revenue (typically operations, marketing).
  • Support – This role is typically shared services such as IT, HR, and Finance.
  • Surplus – These roles do not contribute to your core business, which means it could potentially be eliminated or outsourced.

Be careful not to jump to conclusions. For example, McDonalds found that their most strategic position is not an executive, but rather their store manager. Each manager was found to directly influence that store’s profits. Take the time to really discuss and look at each position. This is a good time to leave your pride at the door.

Step Three: Segmentation of Your People

This will be the hardest part of the process. It is important to remember, evolution not revolution. In this section you will be defining your key people in your organization. We like to break this into four groups; high performers, high potentials, successful career level, and move or exit.

Your high performers are going to make up 5-10% of your workforce. These people are the people who are contributing most to your business by driving the profits of your company in whatever capacity.

Your high potentials are also going to be only 5-10% of your workforce. These people are your future leaders and experts who will drive your entire company or even your industry. These people are able to grow at least two levels up if not more.

Next is our successful career level people they are going to be the meat and potatoes of your company, comprising of about 70% of your workforce. The people in these positions have probably been there for a while, maybe 5 or 10 years. They can also be your people who genuinely like their job or are just really good at their job. Tip: Do not neglect these people! They need to be challenged and groomed as well. Given The chance they will move laterally rather than up or down in any given department.

Finally we have our move or exit people who unfortunately make up about 10-20% of your typical workforce. These people are sometimes low performers, or possibly they are simply in the wrong type of job. Although we may have had great plans for them when we hired them, they may just not be a good fit. This can happen when we try to push good technical people into leadership positions thinking they’ll be successful when in many cases they are not.

Step Four: Your People and Their Roles, Responsibilities and Jobs

Finally we have done all the legwork, now we will start to see our talent gaps take shape. By defining our roles and defining our people, we are now able to pinpoint exactly where you have holes, or gaps in your talent. The only thing left to do is determine what to do with those gaps.


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