5 Weeks to Shape Up

No worries. Consider starting the new year with this five-week workout routine guaranteed to get your talent back to winning ways.

Week one — check your vital signs: It’s a good idea to consult with your physician before leaping into a new workout regimen. Likewise, refrain from jumping headfirst into changes. Begin by building strategic perspective — pause to read your vital signs. Your checklist should include asking:

• What is working well right now and what are your potential strengths to leverage even more?

• What isn’t working or is missing to support today’s business needs?

• What are the emerging talent trends you need to address now?

• What would your CEO and other critical stakeholders say about the state of talent in the organization? How would they assess your performance and contributions recently?

• How hard was it to answer these questions and what information gaps need to be filled in before you have a handle on your talent management shape?

Week two — stretch to expand: Recharge your leadership muscles by using this week to identify a stretch goal for the year. Building on your week one assessment, choose the two most important talent management issues or opportunities for the new year. Tell yourself, “If I don’t get anything else done this year, the two most important accomplishments in the coming 12 months would be …”

Now look at your target improvement areas and challenge yourself to stretch by picturing great results, not just satisfactory progress. Describe what success would look like in each area. Give yourself permission to dream to reach further for greater effect.

Week three — get lean: You knew eating habits would be part of the effort, didn’t you? This week’s focus is to slim down through simplification. What are the talent reporting routines that are bulging with data fat and little nutritious insight? Find at least three overweight candidates for “one-page talent management” thinking.

Moreover, consider this the year to cut something completely out of your talent development diet. Be courageous enough to stop doing something for a while and see if anyone misses it. Slimming down frees up time and energy to focus on your week two big-impact dream projects.

Week four — strengthen your core: Extend your week three gains of getting lean by reaffirming and strengthening the fundamentals. Apply yourself this week to renewing at least one of the five building blocks of great talent management:

• Ensure a strong link between business strategy and practical talent management imperatives.

• Orchestrate better talent flows through improved workforce planning.

• Conduct credible and useful talent forums with line leaders to talk talent. Engage them in applying the same rigor to talent calibration and actions that is given to other critical management functional routines such as new product development and sales planning.

• Align the disparate parts of HR systems, such as staffing and performance management, to complement key talent development and deployment strategies.

• Nurture robust leadership development practices that equip and inspire leaders at all levels to positively meet future challenges.

Week five — sustain the momentum: Congratulations on successfully completing the first month of New Year, New You Talent Management! Week five is time to solidify which improvements from the past four weeks you want to continue working on for the remainder of the year. You’ve worked so hard this first month to get back in shape, it would be a shame to backslide into the talent management doldrums again.

Start by identifying your specific commitments to talent management improvements next week, next month and next quarter. Hold yourself accountable by revisiting the week one vital sign questions periodically to assess progress and refocus efforts. Remember, there really isn’t an offseason for the fit talent management pro!