In today’s highly competitive business landscape, organizations are constantly seeking ways to gain a competitive edge, attract the brightest, and retain the best. But this isn’t something that will happen overnight; it takes a carefully thought-out talent strategy that is rooted in the overall business growth strategy.

Colliers, a leading commercial real estate professional services organization with over 8,000 professionals in North America, has evolved our talent strategy over the past two years. As an organization, we are enterprising and operationally decentralized, which means that our strategic approach often has an entrepreneurial lens. The key driver of our evolution has been the integration of our talent team within our business, enabling us to advise our leaders on talent-related matters because we understand and speak the language of their business priorities.

“Tailoring your strategy to fit your unique context is key to long-term success.”

When I reflect on the inclusive approach we've taken to evolve our talent strategy over the last two years, there are five main keys to our success:

1. Business Goals Drive Talent Goals – HR professionals understand that a people-centric approach is essential in business. However, a successful talent strategy goes beyond that and requires alignment with overall business goals and objectives. Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging have become integral parts of our talent practices, no longer treated as separate strategic pillars. As talent development professionals, our role is to grasp our organization's vision and priorities to ensure that the talent strategy supports and enhances these goals.

2. Start with the End in Mind – With an understanding of your organizational goals, outline a vision that will help the C-Suite understand how an investment in talent will help them achieve their goals over the next several years. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your talent strategy. Start with what the vision for your organization is and then work backward to the present-day.

3. Know & Grow Your Talent – It's crucial to understand the skills, behaviors, and competencies required for various roles within your organization. Not only is the knowledge helpful when recruiting, but it will also guide skill development, define success criteria, and pave the way for internal mobility. Utilizing data and analytics is key to understanding your current talent landscape and future needs and is crucial to your overall talent strategy.

4.Succession Planning – One thing the Roy siblings (Succession, HBO) would have benefitted from is succession planning. Succession planning isn’t just about talent; it ensures business continuity. Working closely with senior leaders and HR, identify a pipeline of diverse high-potential employees and create development plans to prepare them for future leadership roles. Succession plans keep top talent engaged and ensure a pipeline of diverse talent for key positions within the organization.

5. Remain Agile – Building a talent strategy is an ongoing process, not a one-and-done task. Be prepared to continuously assess and adapt to changing business needs, market conditions, and workforce dynamics. Additionally, your strategy may space several years due to factors like scale, resources, organizational maturity, or business readiness. Embrace an agile approach to implementing initiatives and programs, allowing you to incorporate feedback and evaluate areas for improvement with minimal disruption to the business.

With these five things in mind, I want to emphasize the importance of understanding your organization’s culture and values when developing your talent strategy. What works for another company may not be suitable for your organization, and aiming for a ‘best-in-class’ approach may not be realistic for your current organizational state. Tailoring your strategy to fit your unique context is key to long-term success.