How Ready Is Your Workforce?

Just so we’re clear right from the start with the title of this article, I’m not talking about what many human resources professionals refer to as ‘Workforce Readiness’ i.e., The ‘readiness’ of individuals to enter or re-enter the workforce productively and the subsequent training needed to help them acquire the necessary skills to become employable.

What I’m talking about when I ask, you as a leader, How Ready is Your Workforce? is this:

Is your current workforce ready to support, manage, and lead your company as it will be 3, 4, 5 or more years from now?

According to a recent succession management planning survey conducted by Korn Ferry, the international executive placement firm, only 1/3 of the senior executives they surveyed were satisfied with the succession planning efforts of their organizations.  In other words, 2/3 of the organizations surveyed don’t effectively plan for or support the development of employees to meet the leadership and workforce demands their organizations will face in the future. That’s scary! That’s also really poor leadership by the current leadership teams and boards. Now here’s the really scary part, I’m also comfortable saying from my experience, these proportions carry over into the business world in general and aren’t limited to those organizations participating in the survey. That’s truly scary.

Why don’t more organizations take the time to think about, plan for, and then support stronger, intentional leadership and employee development? Why don’t more leaders accept that they need to invest in the “soft-side” of their business, as they do in their hard assets? The answer shared with me just last weekend by a CEO was surprisingly honest and surprisingly embarrassing for him…

Because the issue is big. It will make me think. It will take time and there is no easy answer. To do it right, it will also cost money and there is no immediate ROI. Therefore, I tend to put it on the back-burner. It’s wrong I know, but that’s reality.

One of my favorite quotes is from the classic book by Dr. Spencer Johnson, Who Moved My Cheese? The quote is, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”  As a leader in your organization, what would you do to ensure your workforce was ready to support, manage, and lead your company as it will be in 3, 4, 5+ years — if you weren’t afraid? You’d probably make the time to ensure that your workforce was being supported and getting ready to fill current, future, and key positions. Honestly, once you start, I’m comfortable saying, you’d find it’s not as scary or difficult as what you anticipate. The basic process is simple in mapping needed positions, skill sets and people to future needs.  The hard part is determining what type of company you’re going to be. If you’ve got that much clarified, the rest is simply mapping out a plan with your team.  But first, as a leader or leadership team, you need to make the time. As a CEO client stated during a leadership team meeting last fall,

 I’ve come to finally realize, as leaders, we can’t afford not to spend time talking about our people and how to better support them. If we don’t support them properly, we can’t get anything done here.

And that’s why you plan for your workforce’s current and future needs. If they’re not ready, who will be?

This article was originally published on the Weber Business Services, LLC website, and is reprinted with permission.

© 2015, Liz Weber. All rights reserved.

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