I’m proposing a brief examination of three critical business questions in this article. They are:

  1. What role does having a highly preforming workforce play in a business’s overall success?
  2. Does the majority of senior business management really focus on building a top talent organization?
  3. How well do businesses tie acquisition of top talent to their strategic business objectives?

Important Clues

There are important clues that provide insight into these questions contained within the Accenture 2010 High-Performance Workforce Study report. A link to the complete report is provided below. This report examines several critical issues by obtaining information from a survey of 674 senior executives who represent global companies with revenues in excess of $250 million. If your business is smaller than that, I’d content you likely stack up pretty closely with these results, so your’re encouraged to review the data with relevance to your business.

Report Summary

Here are some of the key findings from this report that struck me as very interesting.

  • How employee cuts are made – When layoffs seem inevitable, more than a third of companies based their workforce cuts not on individual performance or careful workforce planning, but rather on who responded to buyout and early retirement offers resulting in a situation less than ideally suited to assembling a team of stars capable of driving growth..
  • Basic talent management functions – These basic employee sourcing and recruiting functions have been allowed to atrophy during the downturn in the US economy.
  • Executive Confidence in their Talent – Confidence in the skill levels of critical workforces among those surveyed was not high.
  • Front Line Talent is Weak – Companies that expected to execute growth strategies with fewer employees are placing an additional burden on the skills of existing workers to innovate and improve overall productivity. Yet few executives express confidence that their companies’ most critical workforces—frontline positions such as sales and service—are world-class.

A very interesting aspect of the Accenture High-Performance Workforce study included a comparison of leading companies vs. lower-performing competitors. These divergent companies talent was compared at all levels of the organization. The criteria used for this comparison was taken by scoring of self-assessment of their capabilities across 18 critical dimensions. These criteria included workforce planning, training, performance management, sourcing and leadership development. Some additional results that proved very telling when comparing top performing companies with lower-performers included the following highlights:

  • Cost Control  – There was a difference in those ‘hunkered down’ and focusing mostly on cost control (lower performing companies 43%) vs. those that struck a balance between cost control and implementation of growth strategies (higher performing companies 51%).
  • Workforce Planning – Leading companies were more likely to have retained a more robust workforce planning capability (42% vs. 36%) for lower performers.
  • Employee Development – Leading companies retained employee development programs (47% vs. 33%) for lower performing companies.

One of the most telling discrepancies between the more successful vs. the less successful businesses was the effectiveness of their Human Resources and Training organizations. The difference in the more successful being able to adapt and manage through periods of economic uncertainty was remarkable and telling. Senior executives from the top performing companies rated their HR and Training Departments effectiveness at 87% while those struggling businesses rated their department’s effectiveness at just a merger 28%.

Some Conclusions that Seem Obvious

While the report was more far ranging in detail from my summary, there are several conclusions that seem to jump off the page of this report.

  • Top Talent Strategy – Successful companies who have a purposeful top talent strategy consistently outperform those that don’t.
  • A purposeful top talent strategy is multidimensional in design and execution, i.e. it includes: workforce planning, training, performance management, sourcing, recruiting and leadership development.
  • Talk or Action? – Some senior executives ‘walk the talk’ and others only pay ‘lip serve’ to the importance of top talent in their businesses success. Those that walk the talk are consistency market leaders.
  • Performance Counts – Many companies (about 33%) went about reducing their workforce during times of uncertainty without regard to incorporating performance into their strategy. Those that followed that path today are suffering the consequences.
  • How to Become a Market Laggard – Those without a workforce strategy are constantly fighting an uphill battle to compete successfully in their market.

The results of this report paint a bleak picture for companies who do not develop and maintain a strong workforce strategy. This includes those that do not adopt an achievement / performance approach to their recruiting and hiring. You can read the entire Accenture report here.

A Solution

Maybe some of these companies are your competitors. If so, they will have a distinct advantage in getting the best and brightest to work for them, leaving you with less than the cream of the crop.[/pullquote2] Our company’s core expertise is a systematic recruiting and hiring process with its central focus built around top talent acquisition. We’ve taught it to many companies who have benefited from this change in how they attract and hire top talent. I know the above statement may not be popular, or easy to hear, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t factual. We’ll explain and defend our position in the most friendly and professional way possible. Just give us a call. We’d love to discuss your quest to hire top talent. Call Carl Bradford today.

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