According to the Hackett Group, companies excelling in talent management can increase earnings by nearly 15 percent. Yet, despite the abundance of industry data showing improved talent management results in better business performance, many executives unfortunately still view HR as a cost center.
So how do you give your HR department (and your talent management proposals!) an image makeover? Here are a few tips to help build more effective business cases for your proposed talent initiatives:
1. Articulate the Problem
This critical first step, though seemingly simple, is actually a step talent proposals often fail to address. Most people want to jump right into presenting the solution, without actually first defining why they need the solution. So, make sure to articulate the current problem you're solving before jumping into the details of that new training curriculum or modern performance management system.
You'll also want to quantify the problem. For example, if it takes each manager four hours to complete a paper-based performance review and you have 50 different managers having to perform reviews for four direct reports each, that means 800 manager hours are being spent on these reviews. At an average manager pay rate of $75 per hour, that means this outdated performance review process is costing you $60,000 - not even counting the time employees are spending on reviews!
2. Know What Keeps Your C-Suite Up at Night
So your great new solution to the problem you've identified is to implement a better training program, a new compensation plan or a more strategic recruiting process. What executives hear is "we must spend more." What they need to hear is how investing in your initiative will increase profitability.
So, when pitching your talent programs, take a step back and think about your organization's strategic priorities and the KPIs the C-suite really cares about. Then, figure out how your talent programs will impact them. Has your CEO prioritized expansion into emerging markets? Rather than saying your time-to-hire rates need improvement, translate that into what impact time-to-hire has on your organization's ability to penetrate these new markets and drive top line growth.
3. Pitch It Like You're the CFO
Talent management programs often (unfairly) get a bad rap because they are perceived as only impacting "soft skills." But even talent programs that support soft skills can have a measurable business impact.
Improving employee satisfaction means fewer customer complaints, resulting in higher customer satisfaction. This can be measured through client retention, which in turn directly impacts revenue. Crunch those numbers. Don't be afraid to collaborate with peers in different functions across the business - including those in Finance - to understand the full extent to which your talent initiatives will impact the business as well.
4. Don't Shy Away from Challenges
Sometimes, risks or potential challenges are buried away and completely glossed over in proposals to the C-suite. Be realistic and upfront about the stumbling blocks you could face. Create a realistic plan for how you plan to address them, too. This shows you are prepared and have a well-thought-out proposal. If it sounds too good to be true, something's probably wrong.
5. Pretend You're on that Elevator
Okay, this might be a little exaggerated as obviously, your proposal needs to be more detailed than an elevator pitch, but you get the idea. Your proposal should be streamlined and straightforward, very clearly and very quickly getting to the point. A long and winding proposal in HR-speak highlighting all the bells and whistles of the proposed program isn't going to help you make a more compelling business case to the purse holders.
6. Define Your Program KPIs
There is truth in the old cliché: "What gets measured, gets managed." How will you measure and assess the success of your program? Make sure to highlight the program's key performance indicators (KPIs). They show accountability and help ensure investment in your program isn't fleeting. Combining HR metrics such as retention and employee engagement with financial measures creates a more robust business case as well.
Because you've just crafted a killer proposal, you HR Hero, you.
These are just a few tips to keep in mind as you craft the proposal for your next talent management initiative. Don't miss next week's post, the second in this series on making the business case for talent management. We'll highlight ways to more effectively speak to (and garner buy-in from) each of the high-level executives involved in the decision-making process.