Talent Optimization Strategies You Can Adopt at Your Organization Today

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Most of us are feeling the pinch of the talent market affecting our businesses. I often ask company leaders what their talent strategy is and the truth is, many of them haven't invested any time into creating a playbook for attracting and retaining talent.

It's no surprise, as there are many factors keeping our leaders busy, such as managing growth or putting out fires. However, people are a company's most important asset, and the critical piece of the puzzle that's missing for most companies is a well-defined and easily executed talent optimization strategy. With a job market unlike any we've ever seen, now is the time to consider implementing talent optimization strategies within your organization.


Talent optimization is a business' lifeline for managing and attracting talent. When we hear "optimization," we think about getting the most out of a resource.

By integrating a talent optimization strategy, you'll be able to get the most out of your people, enhance productivity and create a happier work environment. Getting the right person in the right seat doing the right job the right way, ensures your company will run smoothly on all cylinders. Creating an objective talent management process will enhance diversity, equity and inclusion, remove hiring biases and create a structured and consistent hiring process that works every time.

Here are five small and effective talent optimization tactics you can implement, right away:

1. Create a list of company cultural and behavioral traits used for employee hiring, promotion and discharge decisions.
Making decisions based on these traits holds each employee to the same standard related to the company's unique culture and values.

2. Gain hiring alignment on candidate qualifications by creating a candidate scorecard.
The scorecard does not have to be extremely intricate to be effective; a simple Excel sheet will do. Start with the top five prioritized skills and core behavioral traits for the role, which then makes it easy to assess a candidate's match on the scorecard.

3. Integrate behavioral or cognitive assessments into your hiring, selection and promotion process.
In a 2021 study conducted by the Predictive Index, employees determined that good managers utilize personality or behavioral assessments with greater frequency than bad managers. These make for easy and accurate data points for decision-making pertaining to talent. Do your research to select an assessment tool that's scientifically valid, equitable for a diverse candidate pool and compliant with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines.

4. Schedule consistent one-on-one meetings with employees.
All employees want to know where they stand. Having time set aside each week or month to discuss career mapping, role structure, and the changes in the organization will keep employees engaged and enhance the manager/employee relationship. Maintaining this relationship is vital, as 63% of employees with a poor manager relationship are thinking of leaving their company.

5. Create a standardized onboarding orientation for new employees.
It's hard enough to attract great employees, but once you get them, how do you keep them? New employees want to feel special and welcomed. Creating an onboarding checklist for an employee's first day will standardize the process for the leadership team and help the new employee feel the company was prepared to welcome them. Workstation set up? Check! Office tour? Check! New hire paperwork printed? Check!

In this job market, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. Start with these small, easy steps and your organization will be well on its way to having the most optimal environment to recruit and retain top talent, so you can continue to do what your organization does best.

Ashley Ward is the Founder and CEO of Hire For Hope, a talent consulting and recruiting firm based in Grand Rapids. A survivor of domestic violence, Ashley founded Hire For Hope in 2017 with a mission to empower women experiencing domestic violence and now gives 10% of profits to the YWCA so that other women can have the same chance she did.

This article originally appeared in the Dec/Jan '21-'22 issue of West Michigan Woman.


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