brainstorming workforce planning

6 Workforce Planning Tips for New Managers and Leaders

Operations and leadership teams use workforce planning to identify and address gaps between the workforce of today and the needs of tomorrow. 

While this systematic process is common at most businesses, the most cutting-edge organizations are getting their people managers and leaders involved and taking a “bottom-up” approach.

You might be feeling a bit overwhelmed if you're a new manager, but have no fear—these feelings are completely normal, and you're not alone. Below, we'll share expert workforce planning tips to help you understand your role in workforce planning and get the most out of the process.   

DO: Get Lots of Input

Start with your team. If you manage people, functions or processes, you should start with a simple needs analysis with your team members. Ask your direct reports these questions: 

  • What do you want to do less of?
  • What do you want to do more of?
  • What do you want to create that doesn’t exist today?
  • What do you want to completely eliminate?

Getting early input ensures that you aren’t burning yourself out and can maintain energy for strategic workforce planning decision-making when the time comes.

DON’T: Make Decisions by Committee

While it’s crucial to get input, it’s even more important to ensure that you are driving recommendations to your finance team and beyond. You can use the Darci Method to provide role clarity to employees and business leaders from whom you will solicit for information and opinions.

Consider who would best play each of these roles:

  • D: Decider of final decision  
  • A: Accountable for decision
  • R: Responsible for decision
  • C: Consulted on decision
  • I: Informed of decision

DO: Ask for Everything You Need

As you put together your list of asks, ensure that you’re covering all the things you and your team will need to succeed. The list should include budget and resources for headcount, technology, training and development, employee engagement, results-based salary increases, bonuses and promotions.

DON’T: Just Think in Terms of Adding Headcount

Money talks. People are your most expensive asset. Utilize those assets well and think about a workforce plan that leverages existing talent more effectively. For example, if it’s going to cost $100k to add two new members to your team because work is going to double, can $30k of that go to efficiency gains through technology and $15k go towards productivity-oriented variable pay instead to achieve the same goal? It’s definitely worth doing the math.

DO: Trust Your Instinct, but... 

DON’T: Rely on Instinct to Get Buy In

You know your team better than anyone, but you also need compelling evidence. Numbers beget numbers. Bring data that confirms what you know to be true.

Remember, you’re not going to have hard metrics for everything. Metrics, units, and productivity tracking are helpful, but don’t feel lost if you don’t have that all figured out. Qualitative data, also known as experiential data or observational data, can be a critical input. Useful qualitative data could come from insights gained after conducting “stay interviews.” In these interviews, you acquired insights on what gets employees to stick as well as what’s keeping them from becoming more productive. You could use this input to bolster your case when asking for more resources.

Even if you work in a culture where people value “hard” (quantitative) data over “soft” (qualitative) data, you might be surprised at how far you can get by shifting “I’ve noticed…” to “the observational data shows.”

This post originally appeared on Payscale.

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