The Power of Strategic Talent Planning™

Kurt Wilkin

During a recent visit with uber-successful CEO Joel Trammell (, I was reminded of a key CEO responsibility…one of your most important jobs.

Joel made a comment that “most roles within an organization are based on the present (and judged on the past), but the CEO’s job is to focus 80% of his or her time on the future.”

Think about that for a second – If you’re spending most of your time driving today’s sales or putting out fires and dealing with the “tyranny of the urgent,” then you don’t have time to see into the future and strategically guide your company towards the Promised Land.

The good news is that most of us running successful high-growth companies at least understand the concept of planning, even if we don’t enjoy doing it. Ideally, we’re conducting annual strategic planning sessions and usually we’ll have an exec charged with leading our financial planning and forecasting efforts. Sometimes we will have a product leader who is planning the next iteration of our disruptive product or service. But we RARELY see companies taking a step back and aligning their talent with their business strategy.

The CEOs who take their business to the proverbial next-level realize that “who got them here won’t get them there.” They know that talent can and does make a difference.

It’s okay to have one or two people on your leadership team who are loyal and eager but inexperienced and learning on the job. But it’s impossible to scale a company quickly when everyone is figuring things out as they go. Smart CEOs know that the magic bullet for growth is talent, getting the right people in the right roles at the right time can amplify growth like nothing else.

Okay – that’s interesting but how do I build a talent strategy? Following are five important points at a high-level.

  • First, it starts with dedicating focused time and energy to the concept. Carve out ample time with key members of your team and/or advisors, or even hire a facilitator. Please don’t include your entire leadership team because, if you’re like most high-growth CEOs, you’ve got at least one person who doesn’t belong there, usually because they’ve received battlefield promotions and are now walking billboards for the dreaded Peter Principle.
  • Second, leveraging your strategic planning, ensure everyone knows where you’re going as an organization and how you’re going to get there. What key initiatives are you going to tackle, both short-term (12 to 18 months) and longer term (we suggest 3 to 5 years)? Coming back to talent, ask the question “what does the organization look like in 3 years in order to accomplish those objectives?”
  • Now, honestly appraise where you are today. What does your current org chart look like? If you’re being honest, do the leaders in your key functional areas have the ability to successfully drive their part of the organization from current to future state? Or one of my favorite Jim Collins questions: “If you were hiring all over again, given all you know about this person and where the organization is going, would you enthusiastically re-hire them for the same job?”

Time and time again we’ve seen light bulbs go off with clients. Maybe they’ve identified someone causing bottlenecks or it has become painfully obvious that, while their CFO is a solid accountant, they are a bad leader, or they realize now why they have struggled with their VP of Sales, who is more of an individual contributor than a manager.

  • Develop a Talent Plan® to build this next-level team that aligns with your business strategy. If you plan ahead and develop a strategy, you can make the right hire because you won’t be rushed. The level of talent you can hire when you plan ahead is tremendous. When you make great hires, you’ll be amazed at what these unlocking moves will do for you and your company.
  • Lastly, we encourage you to play to YOUR strengths when developing this future org chart. You’re smart and talented but you’re simply not scalable. I want you to focus on your strengths and delegate the rest. What are you doing that someone could do (a) better than you and (b) cheaper than you!?!?!?
    I’ll close with one of my favorite client stories, which touches on each of these points, especially the last one:

Texture Media realized the need for operational expertise in order to take their recently-acquired business to the next level. The team’s grit and ingenuity had historically led the way, but discussions with HireBetter helped build a case towards an alternative approach: hire the game changer who has successfully built the infrastructure to match the vision for big growth.

HireBetter recruited an exceptional Chief Operating Officer who brought both operational excellence and focus on building a scalable organization. Moreover, this talent allowed the business development-minded CEO the freedom to focus where she excels and thrives.

The power of Strategic Talent Planning™ can truly change your business. Contact us to find out more.

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