Successful and sustainable strategic people management

Successful and sustainable strategic people management

April 10, 2024

Cracking the Code: Unveiling the secrets of strategic people management

Key success factors in strategic people management

Increasingly, strategic people management is right at the top of the agenda for managers. Companies need the right people, with the right skills, at the right time, in the right place – otherwise they risk being overwhelmed by the challenges of a rapidly changing business environment.

In an earlier article, we presented our unique six-step approach to people planning: develop a target picture, determine talent supply, determine talent demand, conduct a gap analysis, derive actions, and finally monitor those actions. Our experience implementing this approach in a wide range of real-world strategic people management projects has revealed five key success factors.

"Making sure that your strategic people management is truly sustainable can be challenging. Factors such as flexibility, transparency and having management completely on your side are crucial."
Portrait of Nina Feuersinger
Munich Office, Central Europe

1. Data availability

Collecting and using data in a timely manner is crucial for successful strategic people management. Our approach considers both internal data (such as data on employees) and external data (general market trends). The availability of this data is instrumental for understanding people base trends, turnover rates, employee performance, development needs, staff satisfaction and succession planning requirements. Our data-driven, fact-based approach enables organizations to make decisions based on hard evidence, not gut feelings.

2. Flexibility

Strategic people management is an ongoing process that must be integrated into the company's overall planning. Given the rapidly changing macroeconomic challenges, technological disruption, demographic change and new working conditions, flexibility is key. This involves the ability to reorganize teams, redefine job roles and adjust people base strategies. We continuously monitor – and question – what the company needs in terms of its roles, processes and systems, and adjust our measures accordingly.

3. Top management buy-in 

The company's leadership team sets the tone within the organization, influences its culture and guides its decision-making. For strategic people management to be sustainable and successful, top management must be committed to change. Their role is to instill the vision in the organization, ensuring alignment and interfaces with other functions such as controlling, strategy development and the business units. With this in mind, we work closely with top managers throughout the project in a trusting, collaborative partnership.

4. Organizational structure and responsibilities

Strategic people management relies on the company having a clear organizational structure, including organizational charts and role descriptions. For strategic people management to be properly integrated into the overall corporate strategy, there must be clearly defined responsibilities, with corresponding rights and duties. Collaboration between different business functions, such as HR and controlling, is crucial. We provide a neutral outside-in perspective and help coordinate cross-functional interaction.

5. Communication and change management

Consistent, transparent communication plays a pivotal role in preventing ambiguity and fostering understanding, alignment and engagement among employees. To gain support from the organization, the company must communicate the objectives of strategic people management early in the process. When implementing measures, the people base needs to be involved and decisions need to be open. If the people base is to be reduced, for example, the company should identify future options and support outgoing employees during the offboarding process. We make sure that employees are fully involved in the change management process with the help of our Change and Communication Toolbox, which helps prepare them for their new roles and challenges.

Your strategic people management journey with Roland Berger

Roland Berger helps you find a successful, sustainable solution to the people puzzle. Our tailored approach helps you plan your future people base. Thanks to our experience supporting clients of different sizes from various industries, we are able to ensure that the key success factors for strategic people management are in place – from ensuring data availability and flexibility to helping with communication and change management.

Want to find out more about the Roland Berger approach? Contact us for a non-binding initial discussion.

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