The workforce is the soul of any organization. An entity that is as important to an organization should think along the organization’s lines, right? In a nutshell, this is what a strategic workforce is. One can think of the strategic workforce as the workforce that thinks along with the management on the strategy the organization should have for its business and policy.
An organization is said to have a strategic workforce when its employees and management are in sync with each other on the strategy they should adapt for the business. This match of wavelength is a crucial factor when one considers that employees are most productive when they are given the space to demonstrate their creativity and excellence and use them to perform.
When there is complete harmony and alignment in the thinking about the organizational strategy between the employees and the management, the result is an organization of highly focused and motivated employees. Such an organization is a dream organization because if both sides think as one voice and one mind, the organization benefits in innumerable ways.
The opposite of it is disquiet and misunderstanding and lack of clarity between the management and the employees towards the organization’s strategic goals. What happens in a scenario such as this is that the two forces pull the organization in opposite directions. There is total chaos when this happens. A good part of the organization’s strengths and energies, instead of being channelized towards the business goals, will go into firefighting and compromises.
This leads to complete erosion of the organization’s resources and their ability to perform and obtain results. This is why there should be concurrence between the management and the employees with relation to the strategic outlook and objective of the organization.
A strategic workforce does not happen in a vacuum. It does not get created on its own. The organization’s core team has to make it happen. A lot of planning, communication and interaction is needed to create a strategic workforce. Insightful thinking is needed to plan a strategic workforce. Some of the elements of strategic workforce planning include:
This is the real starting point to planning a strategic workforce. What is the point in planning a strategic workforce when the organization itself has no idea of what it that strategy is? So, the truly first point to strategic planning is to decide what the organization’s strategy is. The strategy is, as we all know, different from tactic. Tactics are short-term steps while strategy is the long-term, durable one.
Once the strategy is finalized, strategic workforce planning involves having to communicate this to the team. This is natural, considering that this whole exercise is about strategic workforce planning. So, the involvement of the workforce is of primary importance in strategic workforce planning.
Suppose we have allotted one hour for a task and we finish it in more or less that duration of time, we will have time for other priorities. On the other hand, if we were to extend that time to more than one hour, the extra time eats into the other priorities, thus generating a long pipeline of pending items.
Once the strategy is communicated, the organization has to ensure that they are both on the same page. This is the other core ingredient of strategic workforce planning. While communicating the strategy is important, what is more so is the fact that the communication should be transparent and honest and should convince and persuade the employee about the strategy and vision the organization has, how it plans to get there, and the importance of the employees in helping the organization reach its strategic objectives.
The point about communicating about the strategic goals to the workforce is that the management should not hold anything back and keep changing the strategy every now and then. This has the potential to cause a serious setback to strategic workforce planning, because employees will be confused and aimless about how they can contribute to the strategic vision if they are not conveyed properly or keep shifting.
Persuasion is the key. Threats, intimidation and compulsion simply don’t work in workforce strategic planning. This is one of the most foolish means an organization can adapt. No employee should be made to feel coerced to take part in something as critical as strategy. A good level of bonhomie is necessary to make it happen. Employees who are convinced about the organization’ goals and their importance to helping it reach that goal are the surest and most solid motivators towards getting there.