Time to bin your talent strategy?

12 May 2021

Is it time to bin your talent strategy?

Pulling the plug on an existing strategy can be gut-wrenching. Changing direction after investing so much time and resource is never an easy decision, but it could be one that saves your organisation.

An unwillingness to adapt can threaten to not only limit but kill business and knowing when it’s time to scrap an existing plan (psst! It’s sooner than you think!) is crucial. If you’re an organisation still in survival-mode, or just about to go back to review the plan pre-survival and make minor tweaks, this is your wakeup call…

In the current landscape, pace is fundamental. Businesses need to unshackle themselves from long-term thinking and shorten the frame. We’ve recently seen difficult decisions take place across industries and, while many have been inevitable, others might have been avoidable with some quick and bold decision-making. My advice to any business grappling with ongoing challenges is to bin (or archive somewhere safe to return to at a later date) your existing talent strategy and start planning for a shorter time frame.

Focus on what is required in the immediate six to nine months or so, setting short-term goals and building a strategy from there. This will help make the business nimbler, free to quickly adapt to change and, in turn, help provide the breathing space to eventually refocus on the bigger picture.

Consider the following simple two questions to put the wheels in motion.

Against the changing backdrop, does your talent strategy still deliver the critical skills needed to perform against your new short-term goals?

To help answer this have a think about the following areas:

  • What are the critical skills gaps that, if filled, will deliver a competitive advantage?
  • How can you source talent in a way that is flexible to changing business demands?
  • Do you have clarity around the external talent pools you will need to acquire diverse talent where there are skills gaps?
  • Is the employee value proposition fit for the new business environment?

Are your leaders equipped to manage through the revised short-term goals?

Here are a few questions that will help get you started:

  • How did leader’s fare over the last 12 months?
  • What became the obvious gaps/what are the core qualities you want to hire against? (Hint: a good starting list would be decision making in unexperienced times, ability to learn, customer focus, courage, resilience, hard work, integrity.)

If the past year of business challenges have taught us anything, it is that people are absolutely integral to business success. Being efficient is no longer solely about productivity, but in utilising a workforce intelligently to meet fluctuating business demands.

Businesses shouldn’t be afraid to review, realign or completely reimagine their talent strategy. Organisations that acted fast on this are already reaping the benefits of the competitive advantage it can bring. Change will continue to be one of the few certainties of business and whilst adaptation will be critical to survival, it also presents an opportunity for savvy businesses to get ahead.


Julia Litchfield is a director within the talent and leadership consulting division at NSCG. Working closely with clients to understand their business and talent challenges, Julia identifies talent strategies and solutions that deliver on the people outcomes needed to drive businesses forward.

Share this: