Crush Your Talent Strategy in 2020 with These 4 Insights

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 “Strategy is about making choices, trade-offs; it’s about deliberately choosing to be different.” —Michael Porter

“This year just feels different.” It’s one of those weird fall Fridays in Michigan, where the weather can’t decide which face it wanted to show. Partly cloudy with warm sun, cool wind and intermittent rain. A surge of air picks up a plastic bag, and it dances through the parking lot, catching sunlight and raindrops, all at once. I readjust my sweater and look at CHRO Alyssa who was peering across the long table. Like this Friday forecast, she wasn’t quite sure how to talk talent strategy or express the current climate of her organization.

“For the past four years we’ve been in such high growth mode, hiring like crazy, launching new products but this past year has just been weird. We lost two seasoned sales reps, then had to downsize a support team when we lost a huge, long-standing account. And if that wasn’t shake-up enough, Tom, our COO, had a heart attack and was out for three months this year. That was scary for everyone. It’s been a tough year, but I know we will figure it out.”

What we were discussing this Friday morning certainly had a lot of weight. While Alyssa was ever optimistic, I could hear the worry, concern, and unspoken question “How do we get back to where we were?”

You cannot be everything to everyone. If you decide to go north, you cannot go south at the same time.

The Four Strategies

While shifting climate is a reality for every company, very few organizations realize there are four different types of strategic approaches: Cultivating, Exploring, Producing and Stabilizing. These methodologies each have different constructs and constraints that make execution challenging. To make matters worse, leadership teams are often incredibly misaligned on which approach is going to have the most success. At best, this leads to confusion, frustration, lost confidence and stress. At worst, companies see disengagement, turnover, lost profitability and LOTS of wasted TIME and MONEY.

So, what approach best aligns with your current business strategy? Let’s dive into each with a short evaluation.


Defining Attributes

  • We focus on the commitment, loyalty, and morale of our employees.

  • We have strong leadership and employee development programs in place.
  • Our structure and processes are accommodating and predictable for employees.
  • Our goals focus on employee development and team cohesion.
  • We define success by engagement, internal culture, and employee opinion.

Leadership Strategy Evaluation

  • Are we supportive, transparent, and empathetic to the needs of our people?
  • Have we built a strong pathway for growth and development?


Defining Attributes

  • We focus on innovation and new opportunities.
  • We are nimble and flexible and able to drive into many directions at once.
  • Our structures and processes are decentralized and easily adaptable.
  • We have numerous entrepreneurial goals.
  • Our organization defines success by products and services unique to the market.

Leadership Strategy Evaluation

  • Are we visionary, innovative, and comfortable with taking risks?
  • Do our leaders inspire action and cultivate creativity?


Defining Attributes

    • We focus on finding new clients and building a reputation for our work.

  • We are competitive and use pricing, quality, and delivery tactics to win over our competitors.
  • Our structures and processes help maintain control and consistency across teams and outputs.
  • Our goals focus on account growth and improvement to existing offerings.
  • We define success by market share and market penetration.

Leadership Strategy Evaluation

  • Are we driving, competitive, and disciplined with rules?
  • Are leaders clearly articulating expectations of employees and coaching them into success?


Defining Attributes

  • We focus on continuous improvement, efficiency, and predictability of our services.
  • We are always finding ways to simplify and improve.
  • Our structures and processes are standardized and automated to minimize risk, improve scalability and decrease costs.
  • Our goals are carefully vetted and proven viable.
  • We define success by higher performance from existing offerings and closing gaps to ensure customer loyalty.

Leadership Strategy Evaluation

  • Are we organized, coordinated and efficient; following rules and processes to mitigate risk?
  • Have our leaders created an environment of fairness and stability?

Make Sense of the Strategy

After Alyssa and I walked through these, I could see the fog clearing. She said, “Yes! This makes perfect sense. We’ve been EXPLORING and PRODUCING over these last four years, and when you look at our team, we are all drivers. We’ve been trying to apply our same growth-mode efforts with very few wins, and we are all feeling it. Based on what’s happened, we need to stabilize, build process and re-energize our teams.”

For this highly strategic, fast-paced individual, a rebuilding year won’t EVER feel right but, knowing how to approach it to get more wins, built up confidence, and renewed her energy for bringing the company through these tough times.

Just like having an accurate forecast can help us prepare for the shifting mid-west weather (where an umbrella, winter coat, and flip-flops, may all be needed at once), naming and claiming the correct approach for your company’s strategy creates clearer understanding of what your organization WILL or WON’T do, allowing decision making and corresponding ACTION to happen quicker and more effectively. Owning the constraints and realities of each approach is both CRITICAL and NECESSARY to successfully implementing. As strategy thought leader Jeroen De Flander says,

“You cannot be everything to everyone. If you decide to go north, you cannot go south at the same time.”

Name Your Strategy

Name your strategy, claim the path, and take action with confidence!

Are you confident that your leadership team can NAME the stage you’re in and CLAIM the right talent strategy approach? If not, talk to us about how the PI Strategy Assessment and Alignment Workshop can bring insight into misalignment and dramatically transform your team’s vision, clarity, and execution stamina to crush your 2020 goals.

Read More

Interested in learning more about talent strategy and the best way to design your organization? Check out “Form Follows Function” from ADVISA President, Heather Haas, where she dives into the human architecture of organizations.

Stephanie Murphy is a Talent Optimization Consultant who is passionate about leadership and business strategy. She consults mid-sized to large local and global clients on how to ensure people are ready, willing, and able to successfully execute on business strategy. Stephanie loves people, coffee, dessert, and thought-provoking questions and would love to connect with you. Feel free to reach out to her here!