Back to School Staffing Lessons: Talent Planning for Longterm Success


This week in the news, a story highlights 125 Boston Public School (BPS) teachers awaiting classroom assignments as school begins this fall. Despite costing the City more than $10.5 million, their contract affords them ‘permanent’ status safeguarding them from any layoff or firing. The current Mayor and Superintendent cannot best serve kids with these unnecessary budget strains. They continue to absorb criticism for an inherited system that their predecessors saddled upon them.

Reading the story made me think, “Could Marchon Partners help fix this systematic problem quickly?”

No, neither a talent management firm nor a strong executive can mitigate the destructive effects of poor strategic planning and hiring practices. What do I mean by systematic problem in the case of BPS? First, teachers belong to a union that negotiates their contracts. These do not change overnight. Second, ever-changing demographics, neighborhoods family structures and student enrollment make long term planning increasing difficult for BPS. Your business might struggle to plan for different reasons too?

All firms operate with limited resources (including those we may not think of like Apple)! How can we be expected to succeed without good, long-term human capital planning?! Does your organization preserve a creative and financial nimbleness to innovate and grow? How can you leverage existing resources to improve your existing work? We can think about a hundred more questions like this; however, here are some considerations worth exploring today.

First, what do we believe as an organization?

In previous posts, I talk about mission and vision as an expression of your beliefs. The mission of your organization binds everyone together to accomplish something valuable. Everyone includes the executive team, employees, customers, external partners and anyone associated with your business. Vision represents the shared route these stakeholders want to venture on to accomplish the mission.

A quick example: In the last few years, USA Hockey implemented the American Development Model to develop better players and coaches for the good and growth of the game. Their belief: American athletes need tailored instruction premised on affirmative, positive culture and the best instructional techniques. Their vision: through consultation with experts across the game USA Hockey developed a nationally adopted program.

When your mission attracts other people to join in, it begins to spread like wild fire. Today the United States Olympic Committee and every major sport’s amateur governing body use USA Hockey’s American Development Model. This sweeping change took place because leaders across sports subscribed to the hockey leaders’ belief, sought out the mission and developed a specific vision aligned with their particular sport.

Allowing beliefs to shape our decisions draws new people in by inviting them to share your mission and vision. But…

How do you shape the vision? Your vision comes from a consultative process and accounts for both the most successful results and those less than ideal situations. While you create a software solution as quickly as possible, how will you identify and employ the right people within your mission? What do you plan to do with the additional employees you hired for the project upon its completion? Preparing for talent challenges requires good planning and, more importantly, strong execution.

As your business expands and you plan for the future, consider drawing on the timeless experience of others (both in and outside your organization) and employing contractors. The first is basic common sense but you may not think of contractors. Contract work enables businesses to ‘try before you buy’ meaning employees work on a temporary basis and the organization remains most free to adjust its work force numbers. Contracting works particularly well in IT areas; however, its principle can apply to nearly every industry.

Start planning for the future today and enable your business to succeed for years to come!

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