Human Resources Kit For Dummies
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Strategic staffing in your business begins with an effort to reassess your department’s human resource requirements in the context of your firm’s business priorities. It’s a mindset rather than a process. The idea is to begin thinking in terms of need rather than job, long term rather than short term, and big picture rather than immediate opening.

Here are some differences between the traditional approach to hiring and the strategic staffing model.

Old Staffing Paradigm Strategic Staffing
Think job. Think tasks and responsibilities that are keyed to business goals and enhance a company’s ability to compete.
Create a set of job specs. Determine which competencies and skills are necessary to produce outstanding performance in any particular function.
Find the person who best fits the job. Determine which combination of talent can best handle the tasks and responsibilities that need to be carried out.
Look mainly for technical competence. Find people who are more than simply technically qualified but who also can carry forward your company’s mission and values.
Base the hiring decision primarily on the candidate interview. View the candidate interview as only one of a series of tools designed to make the best hiring choice.
Hire only full-time employees. Consider a blend of full-time employees and contingent workers to meet variable workload needs.

Looking at your company’s overall priorities, your job is to determine their staffing implications. You need to make sure that any staffing decision clearly supports these business priorities. You must look beyond the purely functional requirements of the various positions in your company and focus instead on what skills and attributes workers need to perform those roles well, as well as skills gaps that exist within your current workforce.

Unless you’re a sole proprietor or run a very small business, you can’t adopt a strategic staffing approach all by yourself. Make it a priority to reinforce the concept with other managers in your organization.

Together, you’ll need to identify everything that may affect the efficiency and profitability of your firm’s operations — and not just in the short term, either. To get you started, here are some of the key questions that you and other people in your company should answer before you make your next move:

  • What are your company’s long-term strategic goals or those of departments seeking your assistance in hiring?

  • What are the key competitive threats in your industry? In other words, what factors have the greatest bearing on your company’s ability to compete successfully?

  • What kind of culture currently exists in your company? And what kind of culture do you ultimately want to create? What are the values you want the company to stand for?

  • What knowledge, skill sets, and general attributes are required to keep pace with business goals and, at the same time, remain true to your company values?

  • How does the current level of knowledge, skill sets, and attributes among your present workforce match up with what will be necessary in the future?

  • How reasonable is it for you to expect that, with the proper support and training, your current employees will be able to develop the skills they’re going to need for your company to keep pace with the competition? In addition to on-the-job experience, would programs such as job rotation help reach these objectives?

  • What combination of resources (rather than specific people) represents the best strategic approach to the staffing needs you face over the short term and the long term?

Company priorities will undoubtedly shift over time as management seeks ways to keep the firm competitive. As a result, you should consider performing a needs assessment on an annual basis. That helps ensure that you’re still on track with the assumptions and priorities that are guiding your staffing strategy.

About This Article

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About the book author:

Max Messmer is chairman and CEO of Robert Half International, the world's largest specialized staffing firm. He is one of the leading experts on human resources and employment issues.

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