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Nora Fleischhut

A Value Proposition for Resource Management

Resource management can be a deal breaker for organizational success. But it has to start with a value proposition that aligns with goals and priorities.

In our recent webinar, Resourcing for Success, our guest speaker Christine Robinson emphasized the importance of having a value proposition for resource management for the leadership team, the wider business, and employees. In this article, we're going to explain what it is, provide a case on why to do it, and highlight any steps or practices that may help you create it. 

To set the stage, could you briefly explain what the value proposition for resource management is, and why it's essential in today's business landscape?

A value proposition for resource management is painting the picture for leadership of how the resource management function is going to benefit the organization and align with whatever their strategic objectives are. 

In recent years, resource management has seen a resurgence - quite frankly, a dramatic change in perspective in the way that the profession is viewed. It used to be seen as an optional extra, but now it’s a necessity. Therefore, securing leadership buy-in for resource management is so important. 

So what are the key ways in which effective resource management can positively impact a company's bottom line and overall success?

There is an inherent fear that with resource management comes some sort of a big scary, loss of control, and people are going to be sent to do things that they don't want to do, which, quite frankly, I find somewhat comedic, because it's actually the opposite. It's looking to understand where people can be positioned to excel to succeed and therefore to do well for the organization. 

Identifying individuals who may be suitable for an opportunity based on intuition is not where the true value of resource management lies. It's an excellent starting point, but it can become administratively burdensome as organizations grow beyond the point where everyone can be known by name and spreadsheet management becomes ineffective.

The real value and essence of resource management are found in strategy. Imagine a scenario where you have a deep understanding of forecasts, whether it pertains to productivity, utilization, or incoming projects. For instance, in consultative or professional service organizations with multiple sales team members, having a connection to the sales or business development teams is crucial. Resource managers need to stay informed about what's on the horizon. Consider the impact this can have on an organization's ability to position itself for success, thanks to a team of individuals dedicated to piecing together the puzzle and preparing the workforce for what lies ahead. No one wants to find themselves unprepared when an iceberg appears on the horizon.

Even with the most basic information, such as scheduling several months or weeks into the future, having insights and making decisions based on this information can significantly benefit both the organization and the team members. It empowers organizations to engage in meaningful conversations with their employees about their career paths, leveraging openings in their schedules as opportunities for growth. This approach aligns with the earlier point about evolving with employees, as opposed to keeping static, immovable records.

Also, it's important to remember that successful resource management is not about resource management - it is about the organization and getting the organization positioned and strengthened to meet leadership's vision. So the very first thing that resource managers should be asking themselves in those moments is, what is the most important initiative right now from a leadership perspective? Maybe it's retention of talent, maybe it's productivity. Maybe it's the retention of clients? 

Where do you start when creating a value proposition for resource management? 

In terms of securing leadership buy-in, I would say that the first step would be to establish trust and really work on cultivating the relationship. But that only takes you so far, right? You need to be able to articulate the value proposition of what resource management is. It's not staffing, it's not scheduling, quite frankly; those are the least strategic parts. They are pieces of the components that make up what resource management is. But really, it's that strategic opportunity to understand how the organization plans to evolve and what your organizational goals are. And two key items are important. One would be how many individuals are needed, if I had to boil it down to something very simple, right? Once you establish that, which is a jumping-off point to working with many other organizational functions, recruiting is a good example.

Then it's effectively and efficiently deploying and aligning that talent throughout the course of the year because you can have a good number in mind of how many individuals are needed. But if you have that right number of individuals and don't appropriately allocate them, you've only taken the first step, right? That's not going to actually give you the answer that you're looking for. So really boiling it down to painting the picture for leadership of how the resource management function is going to benefit the organization and align with whatever their strategic objectives are. 

For example, if you're speaking with a leader who is focused on doubling the footprint of their practice, that's key information that's important to know. How can you help them achieve that? Understand how they are planning; they have some sort of a strategy, I promise you. They're not winging it; they have a plan, and understanding what their steps are is going to help you actualize that vision. So, for example, if they are interested in growing the practice by honing in on and really doubling down on a particular skill set? Well, perhaps the resource manager can go back and take a look at who has that skill set? Who has a skill set that is adjacent to it, right? And could be similar? 

Perhaps it's something where you can help them understand what is going on in their pipeline, what they are expecting the next wave of work to look like, and how you can match the current population of people to either be upskilled or reskilled to now be able to meet that demand from external clients. So there are so many strategic ways that we can partner with the business, and none of them are possible without first getting your foot in the door by articulating how you're going to assist. The other stuff, staffing, and scheduling? Absolutely, that's part of it. That is the execution skewed towards the strategy and the vision. But I'd say the key is understanding what the leader or leaders in this example are trying to achieve. By delivering on those and really bringing that value to the table, it will naturally come about that you'll continue to be, you know, invited to these conversations and have a seat at the table.

I also think that there is a misconception about who needs to be “selling” resource management. That's not your job - your job is to understand the process deeply enough that you can articulate how goals can be achieved through the process that you bring to the table.

What are some additional tips to make sure your value proposition for resource management is successful? 

I believe that many organizations have missed the opportunity to effectively communicate the value proposition of resource management. It's great if you have leaders who understand where resource management fits in, but failing to explain to the individuals who will interact with resource managers is a significant oversight. For instance, let's consider the importance of comprehending the complete person and their life circumstances in your organization. If it's vital to support individuals in achieving their developmental goals, it makes sense for resource managers to be informed and engaged.

For example, imagine an exceptional performer with a promising career trajectory who is up for a promotion to manager. It's critical that the resource manager knows this and can facilitate their involvement in specific client projects to ensure their success. In large organizations, it's unrealistic to expect every leader to be aware of all opportunities across the organization at all times. Therefore, having someone with this level of detail is a clear advantage.

Explaining this to individuals in meetings is essential to their understanding and engagement. I recall a conversation with a young manager who, while diligent, regarded updating schedules as a mere checkbox task. When asked about the purpose of this information, he replied, 'To track hours, right?' I explained that it's more like 'The Story of an Hour' – the accumulation of hours from various individuals paints a bigger picture of the firm's performance and impacts many aspects of the organization, including training opportunities and compensation.

Understanding the scope of work directly correlates with workforce planning. Resource managers aim to make managers' lives easier, not to create busywork. We want to know how many people may be needed in the future, whether we need to consider seasonal help, and what workload individuals anticipate. These insights help us make informed recommendations and prevent overwhelming our teams.

It's fascinating to witness these 'eureka' moments when individuals grasp the importance of updating schedules. To bring it full circle, articulating the value proposition is essential. However, it shouldn't stop with top leadership; it needs to filter down through all levels of leadership and, most importantly, reach every member of the organization.

When employees join, meet with them and explain the role of the resource manager in supporting their career goals. Taking a holistic approach and ensuring everyone understands the value proposition is crucial. Resource management is not about the success of the resource management team alone; it's about how resource management contributes to the organization's overall success.

Great points! A huge thank you, Christine, for your time and your energy, and for sharing experiences and best practices. 

For more information, check our video Q&A with Christine here.

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