The success of any strategic human capital plan relies on having the right people. If you have a solid group of dedicated people all rowing in the same direction toward a common goal, you will find success. But how can you know if your organization’s human capital fits the bill?
Understanding the Critical Human Capital Planning Process Steps
Building out a strategic human capital management plan doesn’t have to be arduous, but it does need to be focused. It requires a comprehensive understanding of your company, your staff and your goals, immediate and long-term.
Know Your Needs
The first step in any human capital planning process must be an objective evaluation of your business needs and goals. Do you have needs, current or upcoming, that don’t yet have human capital allocated? Are you looking to break into new markets? Is there a new business vertical you’re exploring that will require new skills? Or do you have staffing shortages on ongoing projects?
Understanding Your Current Resources
Once you know what you need to accomplish, you need to determine if your current human capital can get it done. How effective is your resourcing? Do you have critical skills gaps or overstaffing situations? Can you reallocate staff to address business needs?
You can’t complete this step without a thorough understanding of your workforce; make sure you take the time to know your employees or talk with the managers who know their strengths and skills best.
There’s a lot more to consider than training and experience when evaluating potential hires. Will they fit the culture? Can they demonstrate collaborative ability? What skills, hard and soft, can they bring to the table? Do they have integrity? Do they really want to be part of your team?
I’ve met with some candidates who looked like a perfect fit for my company: a background that demonstrated an ability to perform well in the open role, a resume that checked all the boxes. But where people like that can fall flat is when they focus on what they’ve accomplished, not what they are challenging themselves to do next.
I’d rather hire someone with a good attitude than someone who believes they already have all the tools they need. Experience matters, of course; any organization has key roles where you need the right experience from the outset. But I’ll take someone with two years of experience and a hunger to learn and succeed rather than someone with 10 years of experience and a challenging personality.
Know When to Move On
An unfortunate truth of human capital management is that you sometimes find an employee situation trending downward and you know it isn’t going to improve. I’ve had to fire some people I considered to be close friends, and it never gets easier. In those situations, it’s critical to make it clear that it’s not a personal attack; maybe it’s a disconnect with the company culture, maybe it’s performance-related, but a separation needs to occur regardless.
If you can’t bring yourself to make those tough decisions, you’ll start to see a negative impact on the organization’s efficiency, either directly (from that employee) or indirectly (when others realize you won’t take action). In my experience, as long as you demonstrate to your employees that you’re invested in them and not just the company, they’ll understand the hard choices you make and respect you more for it.
Moving From Theory to Practice
In one of my previous companies, a litigation discovery firm, I interviewed a young man who still had two years of college to complete and whose prior work experience was limited to driving a Pepsi delivery truck. But from the very beginning, the energy and drive he brought to the table blew me away. Even without knowing the field, he showed me he was intense, an energetic go-getter. I could tell he wanted to learn and push himself, and I knew he was the right guy.
Out of the gate, he embraced the culture, learned things quickly and strove to daily meet the needs of his coworkers and our clients. He ran hard and wanted to succeed fast; I even had to pull him back a bit, he was so eager. But I never once had to encourage him to push harder or do more. By the time I sold the company, this man had applied himself so diligently that he was able to move on and is now the president of one of the largest litigation discovery firms in a nearby market.
On the other side, I’ve had employees with all the necessary credentials, who seemed to have everything they needed to succeed. However, they lacked the drive and energy, they didn’t work well with others and they seemed to be more focused on what they already knew than on what they could learn.
The difference between these two types of employees is remarkable — someone who realizes they’re still on the journey and is teachable will achieve far more than someone who feels he or she has already reached the destination.
When assessing candidates at Percipio, we try to strike a balance between the two extremes. There’s no sense in hiring someone who knows the work backward and forward if their approach or attitude will drive colleagues away. Conversely, hiring people without any relevant experience purely on the basis of their attitude can leave a company with significant skills and knowledge deficit.
My gold-standard candidate is one who has an understanding of the field and possesses critical skills but is also eager to continually learn and grow. Regardless of background, during an interview one of my chief goals is to find out whether a prospective employee is teachable and hungry to learn. If I find someone who has put in the time and energy to become an expert but along the way has learned the importance of being teachable and demonstrates emotional intelligence, that’s a hiring trifecta.
However, the onus is not all on a candidate or even a new hire. Yes, I expect them to bring certain things to the table, like the necessary skill set and a can-do, team-player attitude. But once they join the team, a lot of the burden shifts to our leadership to make sure they are supported and feel valued.
At Percipio, each employee is more than just a worker; strong organizations have a common unity that bonds everyone together — from the CEO to the maintenance guy. Human capital is a critical aspect of our overall business capital; we prioritize investment in all of our employees and support them in their pursuit of continued growth.
Just as importantly, we make sure to fully immerse each employee in our company’s culture. There’s no point in hiring team players if you’re going to allow silos across teams and departments. We make sure the onboarding and learning process includes at least an introductory education into the roles and responsibilities of different departments. If each worker appreciates what other teams are trying to achieve, it fosters the understanding that everyone is pulling together with the same main goal in mind: that we do well as an organization.