May 19

Understanding human capital and talent management

By Chuck Coker

Human capital management (HCM) is an approach to employee staffing that considers people as assets. Marketing managers who embrace this approach believe an employee has a current value that can be measured and future value that can be enhanced through investment. This investment may be construed by some as purely financial, especially if you are communicating with executive staff or accounting departments.

However, it provides a basis upon which to build an objective foundation for your department. It is this structure that will provide your employees with the security of knowing where they are, what they are doing there, how they can contribute to each other, and the organization’s overall mission and vision.

An organization that supports this approach provides employees with clearly defined and consistently communicated performance expectations. Managers are then held responsible for holding employees accountable for achieving specific business goals, creating innovation, and supporting continuous improvement by finding ways of increasing their capacities. Practitioners of this development and retention strategy focus on best practices.

HCM capitalizes on employee data, allowing managers the capacity to make decisions based on such information. HCM software has the capacity to streamline and automate many of the day-to-day record-keeping processes.

This data can be used by the marketing manager to help in the decision-making and developmental processes and is not purely limited to HR compliance for industry and/or government regulations. Most marketing managers do not access or use this valuable data when it comes to managing and developing staff.

An insightful marketing manager understands that HCM focuses more on management than on the leadership/development aspects of their role. However, every piece of accumulated data provides critical insight into how the employee wants and needs to be led and developed. It becomes another resource to help your department analyze employee strengths and vulnerabilities while bringing to surface opportunities and strategies that allow you to proactively manage your team members to higher levels of performance.

If you maintain a holistic view of your employees, you can maintain the consistent and accurate answers needed for strategic decision making. Here are the five interrelated components you must understand to ensure you (and your department) are poised for performance:

  1. Strategic Planning: Marketing’s mission, vision for the future, core values, goals and objectives, and strategies.

  2. Department Alignment: Integrate and align your unique departmental human capital strategies with the company’s core business practices.

  3. Leadership: Foster a committed leadership team and provide reasonable continuity through succession planning.

  4. Talent: Recruit, hire, develop, and retain employees with the behaviors, values, and skills for mission accomplishment.

  5. Performance Culture: Empower and motivate employees while ensuring accountability and fairness in the workplace.

You may have already established each aspect of this process. If so, you are steps ahead. If not, here is a checklist for helping you get this process underway. Take this checklist as the foundation and understand that you will need to modify it to meet your company’s specific needs:

  1. Write out your departmental plan. A written plan will allow you to follow a blueprint of your marketing strategy, and tactics to be accomplished. Included will be marketing benchmarks, from which you can measure success and evaluate changes necessary to meet your marketing objectives.

  2. Define your target audience(s). Do not assume everyone could (or should) be your customer – make the plan as narrow as possible. Then, develop one or more marketing personas of the people who actually purchase your products/services.

  3. Realistically evaluate your company’s strengths and weaknesses, especially if you are going to expand your products/services or market opportunities for your business. Don’t forget to assess your key competitors’ marketing materials, and perform competitor website audits and marketing positions. Also, research current industry trends that may impact your business.

  4. Define your customers’ challenges as they pertain to short-, mid- and long-term issues. Make sure you consider them from a customer-centric marketing perspective and then outline solutions your organization (or your internal customers) can offer.

  5. Create, and base your efforts upon, your value proposition. Tell your customers why you are best suited to provide a particular business solution – but do it without boastful language. Do this quantitatively, not qualitatively.

  6. Provide specific marketing recommendations replete with both short- and long-term action items. Use multiple channel recommendations that focus on customer benefits, not yours. Make sure you are time-specific with your activities.

  7. Establish realistic marketing goals, and track them through a benchmark analysis to ensure you are getting ROI. Monitor this monthly and consider adjustments as you go along.

About the author 

Chuck Coker

For more than 30 years, Chuck has focused his career on people's development. He has implemented proprietary Personal Formation, Human Capital, Talent Management, and incentive-based programs across a broad scope of Fortune Companies, regional organizations, and educational institutions.


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