Military leaders are trained to plan and execute strategies that win battles.  HR professionals face a similar battle; this one is enduring, experts predicted it 15 years ago, and it is in full swing for 2014.  Yet, HR professionals still find themselves unequipped to fight the war for talent.  Military strategists recognize that winning requires effective, adaptable processes for planning, intelligence, speed, and the right technologies to execute the resulting plan.  Your HR can gain similar competitive advantage through effective execution of those same four military principles.

Planning:  In our case, Workforce Planning.  With everything constantly changing: economic conditions, laws and regulations, market opportunities, etc., you will not win the war for talent with a workforce plan developed at the beginning of the year, and brought out only occasionally to check against goals.  With workforce plans made using accurate real-time data, you can adapt to your needs at any given time.  You are then much more likely to have the right people in the right place at the right time.  When it comes down to it, that’s what the war for talent is all about.

Management teams must practice continuous workforce planning utilizing relevant and truthful talent data.  Workforce data combined with external information, such as labor and salary market data, and data from operation systems, such as point-of-sale and CRM, enables HR professionals to answer the big talent planning questions more effectively.  The right HR system, a system in which you can combine data and analyze it directly, is the key to satisfying this goal.

Intelligence:  As USC’s John Boudreau pointed out, a major failing of many organizations is that they keep detailed records of material assets, yet lack the actionable intelligence to know when they are in danger of losing high-performing employees.  A HR system that is fine for housing workforce data but can’t engage employees for effective communication on performance or career goals isn’t the right system.  For business leaders to understand talent capabilities on a complex level across the workforce they need a system that intuitively takes into account all the possible anomalies and details.

After-action review:  The after-action review (AAR) is a fact-driven and effective process used to ensure the correction of errors and continuous improvement.  After every major initiative is launched and allowed to settle, key stakeholders must gather to give and receive feedback on the project.  Examples of this process include post-compensation planning, where the entire plan is introduced to management, and they are given the chance to provide feedback to the HR team, which HR integrates into a revised plan.

As soon as the review process is completed, there is another opportunity to review what worked and what can be improved upon.  Many organizations don’t do this effectively because it takes time, and most teams are busy with the next project.  Military organizations always plan this time into every project, and it is kept sacred.

Technology:  Technology is an enabler of intelligence.  The military has state of the art technology, which acts as a force multiplier, effectively augmenting teams.  Think of your HR technology as a force multiplier.  It should add capacity to your team.  It should free up time for better strategic thinking, planning, and after-action review.  It should provide you with mission critical data, heads-up displays, and aerial views of your business, your talent, and your competitor’s talent.  The challenge is to assemble the best technology available to you, whether you achieve that by building your own, buying more, or repurposing what you have.  The right technology is vital to executing your strategic processes effectively.

Lessons learned from the military can be applicable to your HR challenges, and with the right tools, technologies and enabling processes, you will be in a position to win against your relentless enemies in The Talent War.

If you are looking to weaponize your HR processes and systems, then contact us at eeStrategy so we can talk to you about our proven, unique solutions to help you win the fight.