Your key steps along the HR pathway

The starting point for any HR policy or process should be to align the needs of your people with the organization’s purpose and strategy. This is an overview of what steps you need to address in your planning and some starter questions to help get you there. For more in-depth training, register for the upcoming Talent Academy and/or order a copy of the CPA Excellence Quick Start Guide to Defining and Mastering Vital Skills for Success.

HR Pathway image from CPA Center of Excellence Quick Start Guide

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A change to the overarching strategy means that HR strategy needs to change. Any change here should produce a cascade effect across all HR functions. One of the first things we look at when we work with an organization is to what level strategy is integrated across the whole organization.

Remember: Knowledge and learning are people processes; how can you expect change if you don’t influence HR strategy?

  • What should change?
  • What could improve vertical integration?
  • What could improve horizontal integration?
  • Who is responsible for strategy change?
  • How will you engage and involve staff?

Job Design

You use job descriptions to recruit and select your talent. If your job descriptions are not up to date, how can you expect to compete in the war for talent? More importantly, how will you even find the right talent to help you adapt and sustain competitive advantage?

Consider: Line managers generally select talent against the job/role descriptors.

  • When were they last reviewed?
  • Are they focused on quality or excellence?
  • Do they build the future?
  • How long do they account for someone being in post?
  • What do they contribute to your change?

Recruitment & Selection

What are you doing to recruit and select people who align with your purpose, with the potential to develop human, social and intellectual capital over the long term?

Consider: Are you recruiting for today, the future or both?

  • Are you recruiting people who have learned to learn?
  • Does this person align with your purpose?
  • What are you selecting, quality or excellence?
  • Why does this person have potential?
  • How will this person influence success?


On-boarding sets expectations and helps to develop the psychological contract. Are you going to leave change to chance or design? Do you treat on-boarding as an inconvenient “tick box” process or a meaningful introduction to the individual’s contribution to the organization’s purpose and culture?

Consider: How does your formal on-boarding (socialization) process compare to the informal “water cooler” culture (the real way we do things around here)?

  • How do your onboarding activities contribute to success and link to strategy?
  • What do people learn about your culture?
  • How do you engage and involve new staff from day one?
  • Is onboarding integrated or just for HR?

Performance Appraisal

How do you know that people are aligned with the organization’s purpose? Are they reacting to current need, being proactive, linking to strategy and anticipating future needs? What needs to change within the appraisal process to achieve impact and results related to your proposed change?

Consider: How rapidly can you identify and address performance gaps?

  • Do you have accidental line managers or professional line managers?
  • What enables staff to self-identify gaps?
  • Do you work to quality or excellence performance?
  • How limited are your core resources?
  • Are appraisals based on current and/or future needs?

Reward & Recognition

Your asking people to expend energy for your cause. What does a good reward and recognition experience look like to committed employees? If you don’t know, you need to find out.

  • Is it safe-to-fail around here?
  • What behaviors do you need to optimize to achieve success?
  • How does action link to talent analytics?
  • Is your approach integrated across the organization?
  • Is success linked to commitment: people, purpose, potential?

Ongoing Pro Development

A new strategy means new goals. What skills are needed for success? Not only to meet the needs of the new strategy, but to manage change itself? Do you have the skills you need in abundance or is success constrained by the limited availability of those skills?

Consider: What are your competitors doing while you wait to learn?

  • Who is responsible for the development plan?
  • Is development reactive or predictive?
  • How does development data link to talent analytics?
  • Do staff learn-to-learn?
  • How do you rapidly sense impact and results from your development efforts?

Succession Planning

What skills do you need in the long term to achieve success? What does the flow of skills look like over the coming years? What enables success? How much resource do you have? Is it in abundance or is it scarce?

Consider: Your ability to sense, anticipate and react to change is constrained by the availability of your scarcest resource (knowledge, skills, behaviors, experience).

  • Do you have the data to sense and anticipate challenges?
  • Volume of data
  • Variety of data
  • Velocity of data
  • Veracity of data

Exit Interviews

Why do people leave your organization, especially during a period of significant change? Did you anticipate these exits; if not, why not? What key knowledge, skills and experience needs to be replaced or attained? What intelligence can you gather to improve talent retention?

Consider: If you are attempting to capture critical knowledge at exit interviews, you have left it too late!

  • What knowledge, skills and experience is leaving?
  • What needs to improve across the HR Pathway to retain/develop talent?
  • Why didn’t you know people would leave?
  • What could be the unintended consequences from exits?
  • Is your internal labor market insecure?