How to adjust your talent management strategies for the post-recession era

The kids in my neighborhood went back to school last week. Remember when your biggest concern was your back-to-school outfit?

My oldest started middle school this year, and as was to be expected, that's exactly what her biggest concern was. Her outfit. Her backpack. Her hair. All of these things needed my attention and were taken very seriously. She and I successfully eased her concerns. Everything was accomplished with my child walking just far enough in front of me, so she could deny my existence. Perhaps I sound my age when I quip that the realization that your mom is so un-cool starts markedly sooner than when I was a kid!

I was surprised by how vastly her concerns after the first day of school differed. Her locker. Changing classes. Six different teachers with six different sets of rules and expectations. Being timely and writing down assignments at the end of each class -- not each day. Gym class every day.

Transition. To a sixth grader with a new hairstyle and recognition of boys, transition to middle school is an extremely overwhelming process. It has brought on a new anxiety she hadn't really been prepared to handle.

I emphatically told her that after a week of this new routine, she would be a pro. She would zip from class to class, and have a better understanding of expectations and an ability to manage her new schedule seamlessly. The anxiety would subside, and she would glide through the school year as if she had always had the responsibility of a sixth grader.

I reflected on my advice.

What does the "back to school" transition mean for the workforce?

In recent months, studies have shown that the approach and methodologies around workforce management, talent acquisition, and retention are a shifting paradigm. The aftermath of the Great Recession is unprecedented (except, perhaps, by the Great Depression).

HR professionals and hiring managers are starting to assess the situation after the fog of war (or, as some call it, the recession) lifts. It is clear that an immediate transition in talent management is going to be essential.

My sixth grader was doom and gloom after her first day of school. This was the first year she didn't come home energized and ready to kick off the school year. Successful transition was crucial to her survival.

In my day-to-day interaction with my clients, many are feeling that same doom and gloom. The energy around new projects and initiatives is lacking and many, like my sixth grader, are dealing with an anxiety that they were not prepared to handle.

Companies will charter a new territory -- what we all hope are post-recession times. Strategic development for new and creative ways to acquire top talent, retain existing talent, and manage the overall workforce will be vital to both survival and sustained growth.

Here are a few questions that will assist you in driving strategic planning for talent acquisition and utilization:

    • Is HR involved in strategic planning for resource utilization?

    • Do you have the right resources, and the right amount of resources, to effectively achieve goals and objectives established for next year?

    • Does your budget allocate additional FTEs (full-time employees), contract resources, or project work in support of your overall objectives?

    • Have you considered developing a cross-functional team to manage and deploy talent across projects in various groups within your organization that share technology and/or project management needs?

So go get a new backpack, a new hairstyle, and a new recognition for the resources in your organization. Appreciate the resources you have and work toward an organized approach to finding the resources you don't have ... yet.

Before you know it, you'll be a pro. You'll zip from project to project, have a better understanding of expectations, and an ability to manage your new workforce seamlessly. The anxiety will subside, and you will glide through the year as if you had always had the responsibility (a.k.a. work) of three people.

If you need any help with your transition, feel free to give me a shout. Just ask my sixth grader -- I may be so un-cool, but my advice is pretty solid.


This post was written by Doug Lubin, a successful Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) Practice Leader and Consultant, who brings over a decade of expertise building sustainable solutions for clients and partners.  Doug helps firms develop high performing talent acquisition and management strategies locally and globally.  Learn more about Doug.

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