The Season Opener: An Excellent Example of Workforce Planning

If football season openers were contests to see which teams had done best at workforce planning, I'd have to (grudgingly) admit that this year the Green Bay Packers won over the Minnesota Vikings hands down.

The 2011 Super Bowl champion Packers demonstrated good talent management, while "my team" showed poorly.

The reason, I believe, is that the Packers did a good job of workforce planning. Most likely planning this team began in 2005 when management looked at an aging Brett Favre, and drafted their current quarterback Aaron Rogers. Since then, they have built their team around Rogers.

As a result, they are once again among the teams favored to go to the playoffs and win the Super Bowl.

If you're a Vikings fan, that hurts. But if you're in business, you might take a lesson from the Packers.

Here's what I mean…

If, as I believe the Packers did, a company forecasts its talent needs and the supply of talent that is or will be available, it can staff more efficiently.

And staffing more efficiently puts a company in a better competitive position.

I'm sure you can see why this is important as a general rule. But it's even more important at this time when businesses are facing a talent crisis because demands for talented employees exceed supply.

"But wait,” you're probably saying, “with so many people searching for full-time work, how can there be a talent crisis?"

Simple — if these things are simple — though many currently seek jobs, they lack the skills and knowledge businesses need.

To complicate matters, Baby Boomers have started to retire leaving a high proportion of companies with a need to replace key, knowledgeable and skilled talent.

Consider a workforce planning study that Aon Consulting completed for one of its clients, which showed that nearly 60 percent of this organization's key knowledge workers and leaders would need replacing in the next five years.

Clearly organizations like this will experience a talent crisis that will affect how they run their businesses — how their employees work together… how their employees and managers relate to one another… how they approach employee development. The crisis will also affect succession planning and opportunities, and retirement philosophies.

So what's the answer?

I think you already know: Like it or not, you can't ignore workforce planning.

So, here's the bottom line…
In planning your next quarter or your next fiscal year — or in planning five years down the road — take a page from the Packer's playbook. Go beyond basing headcount on projects and products, and invest in effective workforce planning. That means:
1) Forecasting the gap between talent needs and availability
2) Sourcing and recruiting leaders and key talent to ensure the ability to find and hire the right employees
3) Identifying and developing internal talent and providing learning opportunities to increase the internal supply of future leaders

By planning ahead, you can provide your managers with the right number of people with the right skills in the right place at the right time.

Tips: Three Steps Plus 15 Questions to Help You Plan Your Talent

It's well and good to plan five years down the road. But you also can use workforce-planning tools to manage your talent in the near future: to build great teams, to increase productivity, to improve communications and to resolve ineffective working relationships.

Workforce planning helps you understand the capabilities and role of everyone in your workforce by giving insight into the core characteristics of each employee, regardless of their culture, age or gender.

So, you ask, how should we approach workforce planning?

The key is to avoid overcomplicating the process. Indeed, you simply need to understand three areas:

1) your current capability and capacity
2) future requirements
3) the gaps between the two

Here are 15 questions to help you in your understanding —

• Questions to help you determine your current capability and capacity:

  1. What skills and competencies do you have in your workforce?
  2. What strengths and development needs do you see?
  3. What workforce issues can you identify? What is working well; what could be improved?
  4. What are your current workforce priorities?
• Questions to help you determine future requirements:
  1. Where is your business heading? Do you expect increases or decreases in company growth, output and revenue?
  2. What products or services do you expect to provide in the future? What implications do these have on your workforce?
  3. In numbers and employee types, what talent needs will company changes require? Where and when will these talent needs arise?
  4. What position vacancies do you see in the future?
  5. How available is talent internally and externally?

• Questions to help you devise an action plan to fill the talent pipeline and maintain the talent inventory at the levels you need:

  1. What areas need to be managed and developed?
  2. How can you attract the right people?
  3. What training and development do you need to improve performance?
  4. How can you meet a diverse range of employee needs?
  5. How can you provide a productive culture in which people want to work?
  6. How can you keep talented, valued employees, even in a downturn?

O.K. so that may seem like a lot of questions and I'm sure your wondering, "Do I really need workforce planning?"

Think about it. If something came along that would increase your productivity, cut your labor costs and dramatically cut time-to-market, wouldn't you go for it? You bet you would.

Workforce planning will do that for you because you'll have the right skills in the right places at the right time.

Your Solution Toolbox: Seven Tools for Workforce Planning

Measuring What Matters

As the talent shortage nears, it's increasingly important for you to find ways to attract talent. Likewise, it's important to find effective approaches to developing top talent and to retaining high-potential employees.

You do know, of course, that one of the most common reasons good workers leave a company is a poor relationship with their boss.

Indeed, you might say the manager-employee relationship trumps everything — the better a manager understands his employee, his work habits and style, the more likely the employee will flourish and remain on the job and with the company.

Proper workforce planning tools not only will help you place the right numbers of people in the right roles, they will help you maintain healthy relationships between your managers and their employees.

Some examples:

ProfileXT® — You'll find a variety of uses for ProfileXT®: coaching, training, promotion, managing and succession planning. It offers up-to-date technology to help place the right people in the right jobs by allowing managers to see the total person including his or her reasoning style, occupational interests and behavioral traits. ProfileXT's Coaching Report focuses on employee development reducing turnover and increasing productivity.

Profiles’ Workforce Compatibility™ measures important skills and provides understanding of them. It helps define relationships between employees and managers in areas of self-assurance, self-reliance, conformity, optimism, decisiveness, objectivity and approach to learning. It helps managers and employees communicate better, spot conflicts before they occur, and successfully resolve problems.

Profiles’ Performance Indicator — If you need to smooth out workflow, Profiles’ Performance Indicator can help get you beyond disagreement to focus on real work. It will help you understand different people and how to motivate each employee successfully.

Profiles’ Team Analysis, compiled from data collected through Profiles’ Performance Indicator™, makes team building challenging and rewarding. This system highlights the attributes of each team member, reveals group strengths and alerts the leader to potential problems helping to eliminate conflict, build cooperation, improve communication and assure that the team achieves desired results.

Profile XT® Sales — Lay a foundation for a high-performance sales team. Profile XT® Sales will help you select, train and coach superior salespeople.

Checkpoint 360 — This tool gives managers the opportunity to see evaluations of their job performance from everyone including immediate supervisors, peers and direct reports. This assessment can fortify perceptions about strengths and offer insight into areas needing improvement.

Checkpoint Skillbuilder Series — This system helps the good get better and the best stay at the top by emphasizing key characteristics: listening, processing information, effective communication, relationship building, thinking creatively, helping teams work together and much more.

See these tools for yourself. Call us today at 952-322-3330 or send an email to

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Let’s Talk! We offer a no obligation consultation to informally assess your current policies, procedures, and practices. This may help determine what’s missing in your current programs to meet the above recommendations. Call 952-322-3330 or send an email to

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