Neil McCormick Founding Member HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board

Neil McCormick Founding Member HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board

Joining the HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board from Australia and representing the Asia-Pac region is Neil McCormick. Neil has worked in human resources and consulting services for the past 16 years building a repertoire covering human resource management, recruitment consulting, management consulting, talent management, general management and learning and development. He currently serves as General Manager for Talent2, Asia-Pac’s largest HR consultancy. Full Bio


Workforce Strategy at a basic level is the conduit between organisational objectives and the human capital required to deliver those objectives. The focus of Workforce Strategy is not just on the short or medium term. Moreover, it looks to today through the lens of future objectives and informs decision making today with that view.

A lack of focus on end goals means the concentration of effort is always tactical and related to the next milestone and not the overall goal. This can cause many organisations to constantly change direction (somewhat like tacking against the wind and current) and can in turn breed change fatigue, making the efforts needed to move from one direction to another more difficult. Even the most efficient, effective and economic human resources department can only be crisis managers in this scenario.

To concentrate instead on the end goal, and not just that first or (n) milestone, is to gain a far deeper understanding of what the likely nuances of the human resource requirements will be for the achievement of the overall objective. This understanding has the potential to radically change the shape and complexity of the requirements of your human resources as they otherwise may be perceived.

For the purposes of this introduction, the term “end goal” is the documented, forecast position in relation to the longer-term plan of the organisation. The definition of “long term” depends on the industry and the organisation – the length of time is irrelevant. It could as easily be three years as it could be six months. When talking in terms of goals and timelines, it’s extremely important that we are talking about documented positions and agreed upon objectives.

My experience in senior leadership roles across a range of industries and my time and dedication to the HR Consulting space has exposed me to some of the thoughts our readers may also share : “long term”; ”this isn’t for me”, “we’re different”, “we’re too entrepreneurial” “we measure time in weeks not years”, etc.  My response is a simple one: If you don’t need your company or division to be more adaptable, agile, flexible or profitable and/or you don’t want certainty of the value of your Human Capital spend then, perhaps, you are correct… But in case you needed another very good reason for the smart companies of the world to pursue a Workforce Strategy…

As the world crawls out of the global financial crisis, the inevitable reality of skills shortages will return. In my home country Australia, we’re seeing unemployment rates of 5% and there are many billions of dollars of projects shelved through lack of human resources. I’m sure we’ve all recognised the impact that the lack of appropriate skilled human resources has had on even the best of planned activities. I wonder if the lack of the forethought of Workforce Strategy will impact on the global recovery?  How long will it be before planned expansions or growth will either be shelved or falter due to the lack of skilled human resources?

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Over the next few months, Neil will continue to expound upon issues related to Workforce Strategy on HRExaminer including the logic behind it, the differences and inter-relationships between Workforce Strategy and Workforce Planning, how to implement a Workforce Strategy and discussions what successful Workforce Strategy looks like.

 
  • JGraber

    Neil has made some excellent points. As he mentions, I too often hear organizations say that change is so fast that long-term planning is impossible. That argument has been made about succession planning too, particular the development of replacement charts. As Neil points out, part of the problem may be that organizations become hung-up on the meaning of long-term and don't realize that they can frequently re-evaluate and update long-term goals. Software development using an “agile” methodology may be a good analogy. Priorities are evaluated at the end of every cycle, which might be as short as 2-4 weeks. Studies show that close to 50% of software development is immediately wasted because some functions of any software package are rarely or never used. The agile approach allows re-evaluation of priorities at the start of each cyle which helps avoid wasted effort. The same potential exists for wasted efforts of HR professionals.

  • JGraber

    Neil has made some excellent points. As he mentions, I too often hear organizations say that change is so fast that long-term planning is impossible. That argument has been made about succession planning too, particular the development of replacement charts. As Neil points out, part of the problem may be that organizations become hung-up on the meaning of long-term and don’t realize that they can frequently re-evaluate and update long-term goals. Software development using an “agile” methodology may be a good analogy. Priorities are evaluated at the end of every cycle, which might be as short as 2-4 weeks. Studies show that close to 50% of software development is immediately wasted because some functions of any software package are rarely or never used. The agile approach allows re-evaluation of priorities at the start of each cyle which helps avoid wasted effort. The same potential exists for wasted efforts of HR professionals.

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