Curious about Mission-Critical Roles?

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August 13, 2012 | Amy Lewis | HCI

As we all saw last week, it takes a talented, well-designed and dedicated team to successfully land a robotic space probe on Mars.  It took eight years from proposal to touchdown for Curiosity, the Mars Science Laboratory, to begin its quadruple mission: determine planetary habitability, including the role of water, and study the climate and geology of the cold red planet.  For NASA, this meant that every job contributing to design, launch and ongoing experimentation had a role to play, including the army of some 450 interns working on the project.
Not all positions at an organization contribute to success in the same way.  Not all generate equal value, or even the same kind of value.  Some roles are strictly support positions, while others require strategic leadership or creativity.  Some support internal constituents and others interact principally with external entities. 
In research conducted earlier this year, HCI found that only 57% of organizations segment roles based on mission-criticality, and less than half, 49%, do so on a a regular basis.  Neil McCormick, General Manager of Workforce Strategy Enterprise & Government Solutions at the firm Talent2, agrees that only rarely do organizations monitor critical roles on a regular basis.  Just as the business strategy is fluid and changes over time, so do the roles necessary to achieve that strategy.
McCormick added, in a recent podcast, that conducting an HR audit, similar to that of a finance or risk assessment, is a good starting place, to use an evidence-based approach to determine which roles are critical.
“Don’t start in the middle.  Don’t start at the department level, asking each department which roles are critical.  Instead, think in terms of what the organization is trying to achieve.  What work is really requires to achieve this particular organizational objective?” he advised.
Hear and read more about this important step in the workforce planning methodology and check out McCormick’s new book, Lean but Agile: Rethink Workforce Planning and Gain a True Competitive Edge.