Why Having a People Plan is so Important

What exactly is a People Plan? As our VP of Consulting, Rick Rittmaster says, “It’s like a business plan for your talent”. Just like having an org chart, or future business goals which guide how the company will grow and succeed, a People Plan is for finding, developing, and retaining top talent. Every organization knows that growth is messy, but having a plan in place both for your business and your talent is essential for success and minimizing the mess. 

Say you have a goal to double your revenue in the next 3 years. How would you go about achieving that goal? What roles will you need to fill in order to achieve and sustain that growth? What skills will you need that you don’t currently have? Since we know that people drive growth, a People Plan will be key to achieving your goals. 

A People Plan consists of two key steps: 

1) Charting out your goals 

2) Managing talent effectively 

Actually, “step zero” to a People Plan is starting with your current state. Before you dive into charting out your goals, first understand what your organization looks like today and assess any gaps. Then, charting your company’s three to five year goals is the next piece of the puzzle. Once you have your goals clearly laid out, you will need to create a future-state org chart. This will allow you to compare with your current state to determine what gaps exist now, and how to prepare for future growth. 

Creating a future-state org chart with clear accountabilities will allow your leadership team to define needs and determine which talent has the potential to take on more responsibility. This leads into the next step of creating a People Plan – managing talent effectively. 

You probably already have a sense of who your top performers are. If you are like most leaders, it is much less clear what top performers need to advance. Review what the company needs out of each role in the future state org chart. To develop talent into these roles you will need to identify practical action plans that build capability (skills, experience, and attributes) aligned with the needs of the organization. (Check out our previous webinar on this topic for more information!) Most of this can, and should, come from on-the-job experiences. Successful companies are built on strong talent, and effectively developing talent is a proven method to growing your business. 

Throughout the people planning process, you may also be asking yourself: “Do I have the talent internally or do I need to start looking externally?” Knowing a new role needs to be filled externally can feel daunting. Fear not! Since you will have spent time charting out the goals and future state of your organization, you already have a leg up in understanding what talent you will need. 

Having a strong and well-developed team is essential to reaching your goals and a People Plan will ensure you have the right talent in the right seat at the right time.  

How and When to Add Talent to Position Your Company for Growth

In case you couldn’t make it to our latest webinar, “Planning for Growth: How and When to Add Talent” we’re recapping the 4 steps that our co-hosts shared that will help you confidently add the right talent to your team to achieve your growth goals. 

Rick Rittmaster, VP of Consulting, and Todd Johnson, COO, shared that by following these steps you’ll be able to hire top talent into your company and create people strategies to reach business goals. One thing is clear, as TJ (Todd) stated, “your most valuable asset is your people” which is why these 4 steps are crucial to making informed decisions about your talent needs. 

Step 1: Set Clear Growth Goals 

In order to know what talent you will need, you have to know where you’re going. Although this is not CorTalent’s area of focus when partnering with our clients, we can offer the following insights on setting clear growth goals. It’s important to know what your top priorities are, to be as specific as possible, and to know how you will measure and track the progress towards your goals. It is also key to identify what skills and capabilities your team will need in order to reach those goals. Setting clear and measurable growth goals will allow you to keep the big picture in mind as you are making decisions about your current and future talent needs. 

Step 2: Assess Your Accountability Chart 

What’s the difference between an org chart and accountability chart? And why choose the latter? Organizational charts are strong at documenting hierarchies within a company. However, employees within an organization may ‘wear many hats’ or have responsibilities that align with different roles. An accountability chart reflects this reality by allowing people to “sit” in multiple seats and clarifies who is responsible for each function of your business. 

Now that you have your goals set and know what capabilities your team will need to reach those goals, you can start to identify current and future gaps in your accountability chart. This is an important step, because you are starting to translate what needs to happen into who will actually fill that role. Here are a few tips to help leadership teams think about filling current and future gaps: 

Start small- begin by adding responsibilities to current employees 

Be creative- don’t be afraid to break the standard job description and “smush” together accountabilities 

Practice smart development- connect additional responsibilities to career aspirations 

Use data- consider ROI’s of new positions and the cost of vacant roles 

Step 3: Assess Your Talent 

One of the first questions an organization should consider when assessing internal talent is “Do you know what your employee’s aspirations are?” Rick posed a great hypothetical wherein the leadership team wants to promote someone, but that employee is content in their role and doesn’t want additional responsibilities. Assessing talent is about reviewing current performance, future potential, and career aspirations. Someone’s performance and potential may suggest that they would be a great candidate to take on more responsibility, but their lack of interest in moving up or taking on more can hinder your growth goals if you aren’t aware of their aspirations before adjusting your accountability chart. 

In summary, things to think about when assessing your current talent are: 

Current performance: How are they performing in their role over the past 12 months? 

Future potential: How ready and able is the employee to take on more responsibility? 

Passions and interests (aspirations): What are the employees short- and long-term career goals? 

A great way to navigate this third step is with the help of CorTalent’s Talent Review Assessment. You can find more information on that here. This 5-Box system is used in our Talent Review Assessment process to define employee performance and potential: 


Something else to keep in mind during this stage is the ‘Build vs. Buy’ concept discussed by Rick and TJ, which is the final piece of assessing your talent where you will either decide to elevate an internal employee or hire for a role externally. There will be some gaps that you can fill by adding responsibilities to an existing employee’s role, but some gaps will require filling with a new full-time seat within your company. So, to fill those roles, do you build or buy? To know which decision is best, Rick suggested you ask yourself these three questions: 

“What role(s) will be most important to help us grow?” 

“How hard will it be to develop these skills internally?” 

“How soon will we need this role?” 

Step 4: Add To Your Team 

When it finally comes to adding to your team, it’s best to refocus on top priorities and revisit your growth goals to keep them top of mind. Before you can start the recruiting process, TJ posed an important question to consider once you’ve reached this stage: “What does success of this hire look like in the first 6-12 months?” 

If you can outline what success looks like in terms of KPIs and metrics and pair that with the accountability chart gaps you are looking to fill, this is a recipe for success in defining the role(s) that you need to hire. 

The next crucial piece of adding to your team is knowing when you need someone to be sitting in that seat, and when they need to be fully operational. This information is important for taking a proactive approach to hiring. Coupling your ideal timeline with the knowledge that it takes 90-120 days on average to hire for most roles in this market can help you determine when you need to start the recruiting process. Add on roughly 30 days for onboarding and training, and you’ll need to account for about 120-150 days from the day you open the role to the day that role is hired and fully operational. 

When adding to your team there are several other factors to consider aside from the timeline but taking a proactive approach to knowing when you need to hire will allow you to more effectively determine the details of how. 

So, what’s next? 

As you digest the information in this blog, we’d like to leave you with the following questions: 

“If you had all the talent and skills needed to grow, what would your company be capable of?” 

“What could you do then, that you can’t do now?” 

If you know what you want but aren’t sure exactly what it will take to get there, we can help! Schedule an introductory call with our VP of Consulting today. 

*Included in the webinar but not in this blog are a few client case studies that applied these four steps to real world scenarios. If you’d like to hear this process in action, check out the webinar recording here. 

Retained Search vs RPO: Choosing the Right Recruiting Solution

Utilizing an external recruiting partner has many benefits, but it can be tough to know which recruiting solution is actually best for your organization’s needs. 

At CorTalent, we specialize in both Retained Executive Search and Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO), and we’ve put together this blog to outline the most important things to consider when determining which solution will work for you. 

The first things to consider are the level of the position and the volume of hires. 

Are you looking to hire a Director of Operations to run your multi-location manufacturing operation? Do you want to hire a VP of Sales to build and lead an internal team of Sales Representatives? In these scenarios, Retained Executive Search is your best bet. 

Why, you ask? This level of role requires a more in-depth vetting process provided by Retained Search to understand whether a candidate has the potential and the proven experience necessary to lead such crucial parts of your business. 

Alternatively, if you are looking to hire a handful of entry-level Account Managers, a few Technicians, or simply have a mixed bag of entry- or mid-level roles open within your company, RPO is the way to go. With RPO, the candidates you see will still be screened and vetted, but for this level of role the “must-have” list tends to be shorter and more straightforward. 

Next, you’ll want to consider your hiring timeline and time investment. 

The goal of Retained Search is to fill a single critical role within your organization, and this process typically takes 90-120 days depending on the role. Something to keep in mind is that with a Retained Search project, you are guaranteed a fill no matter how long it takes, and you can rest assured that your team won’t waste time interviewing candidates who aren’t a close match to your ideal profile. 

On the flip side, given the level of roles, RPO typically has a faster candidate turnaround time. So, if you’d prefer to see a higher volume of candidates more quickly, then this is the solution for you. Additionally, RPO offers both short- and long-term solutions, and projects can last anywhere from 6 weeks to 6+ months. 

A few final things to consider. 

Whether you have an internal Recruiter or Human Resources presence or not, each of these recruiting models can be leveraged to meet your needs. 

RPO is a good choice for an organization that isn’t yet ready to hire a full-time recruiter but still wants a strategic and dedicated resource for their hiring needs. RPO can also be beneficial for an organization that already has an internal recruiter but may need additional but temporary recruiting support for a higher-than-normal volume of openings. 

Retained Search is typically reserved for higher-level or harder-to-fill positions. For example, you may have an internal Recruiter who has tried to fill the aforementioned Director of Operations role before to no avail. Or perhaps you don’t have internal resources and your Leadership Team doesn’t have the bandwidth to conduct the search for this crucial hire, but they still want to be involved in the selection process. 

Each solution has its time and place, but your company’s needs and goals will determine which path will get you the results you are looking for. If you’d like to know more about what the Retained Search and RPO service offerings include at CorTalent and how we can help you get the people part right, click here! 

Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery: Your Three Phase Plan to Manage Risks, Align Budgets, and Feel Prepared

It’s safe to say that we all want to keep operations functional, align budgets, and feel prepared and confident in our business. However, due to the complexities of technology service continuity and cybersecurity, it’s often unclear how to move the needle incrementally toward accomplishing those objectives.  Fortunately, using a three-phased business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) approach to focus your efforts will result in meaningful progress toward achieving your business goals. 

Phase 1: Develop Technology Recovery and Incident Response Plans 

To be blunt, technology will fail, people will make mistakes, and the threat landscape will always be prevalent, so, to combat these vulnerabilities at your organization, you need both a Technology Recovery and an Incident Response plan.  Having both plans in place not only minimizes the risks your business faces (reputational, regulatory, revenue, etc.), they also give you the best chance to remain a viable business if a worst-case scenario happens – because they do happen. 

Moreover, regulators and cyber insurance providers increasingly require technology recovery and incident response plans.  You can ensure your insurability, get better rates, and limit your compliance risk exposure by proactively developing both. 

A Technology Recovery Plan: 

  • Aims to ensure the continuation of technology services both internally to staff and externally to customers, as well as protects stakeholder interests and establishes that regulatory requirements are being me. 
  • Prepares personnel to successfully manage potential technology interruptions or IT disaster situations while also considering the sensitivity and importance of data and information. 
  • Reduces the risk faced by communications and data networks by ensuring the restoration of critical business functions within an amount of time deemed acceptable by the business (known as Recovery Time Objectives or RTOs). 

An Incident Response Plan: 

  • Assists with the discovery, containment, and resolution of any security incident that may occur. 
  • Helps personnel to minimize loss or theft of information and disruption of services caused by incidents. 
  • Improves the ability to use insight gained following the resolution of an incident to better prepare for future incident management, as well as provides stronger protection for systems and data. 
  • Assists with properly resolving any legal issues that may arise during an incident. 

Phase 2: Evaluate the Effectiveness of the Plans 

Whether your Technology Recovery and Incident Response plans are non-existent, basic, or mature, you’ll want to validate the effectiveness of the plans and ensure they align with the expectations of your internal stakeholders.  Two primary tactics are a consultation with credentialed and experienced experts and simulating technology and security incidents via tabletop exercises. 

Experts guide your executive teams, board of directors, and owners through the process of defining and documenting the business risk tolerances, as well as help you to align the supporting processes, technologies, and personnel to achieve the goals.  If the resulting budget needed to support the desired risk level isn’t viable, they can also help inform decision-making and prioritization to balance risk tolerances and budget to acceptable levels. 

Running scenarios via tabletop exercises stress-tests your plans in a simulated environment to help identify gaps and areas of improvement. While it’s trite, it’s true: practice makes perfect.  Tabletop exercises are like scrimmage practices that help uncover gaps at the intersection of people, processes, and technology. 

Phase 3: Improve and Maintain the Plans 

During the expert consultation and tabletop exercises in phase 2, gaps will be identified and recorded.  In phase 3, prioritize these gaps, then integrate them into the plan to improve its effectiveness and value. Focusing on only a few high-value improvements each cycle yields the most progress. 

Beyond improvement, routine maintenance is also necessary. The plan must be continually updated to reflect changes to resources (systems and personnel) as well as the business environment. The plan must be retested, and personnel re-trained and updated on any changes. 

By repeating phases 2 and 3 over time, you’ll continually improve and maintain your plan. Pick the intervals that work for your business, then schedule and execute.  The right interval for each business varies according to business size, industry, compliance regulations, etc., so it’s not one-size-fits-all. However, annually is a reasonable minimum threshold. 

Starting your BCDR journey 

To get started with business continuity and disaster recovery at your organization, you’ll first want to proactively develop Technology Recovery and Incident Response plans (or review the ones you already have in place).  Then, seek guidance from experts to validate and test the plans. From there, fill the gaps to improve and maintain.  Once you’ve completed all these steps, repeat. This is an ongoing process, not a one-time project, as regulations, insurance requirements, systems, business needs, personnel, vendors, and other factors will change. 

SUCCESS can assist you through every step of the process. Contact us to learn about our collaborative offerings to advance your business continuity and disaster recovery. 

How Microsoft Tools Can Help SMBs Do More With Less

Feeling a little hesitant heading into 2023? You’re not alone. Small and mid-sized business owners are facing a lot of uncertainty. And while the economy, interest rates, and the ongoing political climate are all excellent reasons to be distracted, you still need to focus on running your business and maturing your organization.   

One solution is to do more with less. But don’t worry – we don’t mean working harder or putting in more hours. Today, doing more with less means working smarter, reducing complexity, and using technology to make the most out of what you’re already doing.  

The Five Imperatives from Microsoft’s 2022 Ignite Conference 

Our Chief Technology Officer, Brandon Nohr, attended the annual Microsoft conference to hear from industry leaders and learn more about new products and features. In particular, he enjoyed hearing from Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadela, who kicked off Microsoft’s 2022 Ignite conference by sharing five digital imperatives for the enterprise that help companies do more with less. Read on to see how the imperatives can be applied to SMBs.   

Imperative #1: Be more data-driven in your decisions  

Want to increase the likelihood that your decisions will be successful? Or visualize the trends and insights hidden within your spreadsheets? Then it’s time to start being more data-driven in your decision-making. To do that, Microsoft makes it easy for people to work together on the same data, co-create reports, and share insights with the team – all within the same apps you’re already using (i.e., Teams and Excel).   

Tools that can help SMBs:   

  • Microsoft Power BI – enables your team to make confident decisions using up-to-the-minute analytics.  

Imperative #2: Leverage automation and AI to gain insights and increase your capacity  

Why should data scientists and professional application developers have all the fun? There are tools available today that empower anyone in your company to build new capabilities. And they’re easier to use than you think. Just imagine the time you’ll save by automating time-consuming workflows.   

Tools that can help SMBs:  

  • Power Automation – lets anyone use low-code, drag-and-drop tools to automate repetitive tasks.   
  • Power Virtual Agents – allows you to create conversational bots to respond to customer or employee questions quickly.    

Imperative #3: Innovate with an easy-to-use development platform  

Don’t have the data to make better decisions or the applications to speed up and standardize workflows? You can create them with no developer and no coding experience. All you need is a problem that needs solving and tools you’re probably already using.   

Tools that can help SMBs:  

  • Power Apps – allows anyone to build custom apps using prebuilt templates with drag-and-drop simplicity.    
  • SharePoint Lists – helps you track issues, assets, routines, contracts, inventory (etc.) and gives coworkers a flexible way to organize information.   

Imperative #4: Get your hybrid workforce collaborating and engaging with the company and each other  

The pandemic created massive changes in our work patterns. Today, companies of every size need mechanisms in place to account for different work styles and locations (because popping into someone’s office may no longer be an option). Thankfully, many of the communication and collaboration tools we used during the pandemic will be part of how we work in the future.  

Tools that can help SMBs:   

  • Microsoft 365 – provides a complete, cloud-based experience that makes work better for today’s digitally connected and distributed workforce. To learn more, access SUCCESS’s free M365 Guide 
  • Microsoft Teams – makes it easier to meet, call, collaborate, chat, and more. (While you may have gotten the hang of this tool during the pandemic, chances are you could use even more of its features.)   
  • Microsoft Viva – keeps people informed and empowers people and teams to be their best.    

Imperative #5: Protect everything, everyone, everywhere  

Cybersecurity threats are accelerating, and companies of every size are vulnerable to cyber-attacks. So, if you’re not aggressively protecting your company’s data, cyber criminals could make it disappear in just a few clicks.   

You can protect yourself and your data assets using another tool in the Microsoft ecosystem (and you may already have the license for it). If you do nothing else on this list, maximize your spending and mitigate your risk by strengthening your data security.   

Tools that can help SMBs:  

  • Microsoft Defender – offers enterprise-level protection that’s cost-effective and easy to use.    

Are you maximizing the Microsoft tools you’ve already paid for?  

When working with customers, we’ve discovered that many leaders don’t realize all the tools they have access to within the Microsoft 365 ecosystem. (And that doesn’t include taking advantage of the new features released all the time. For example, Microsoft announced more than 100 new services and updates for businesses during this year’s Ignite conference.)  

If you’re a small or mid-sized business owner with big plans for 2023, don’t overlook the power available to you in the broader suite of Microsoft tools – some of which we touched on here. These tools can unlock potential and add value to companies of every size. Plus, they’re easy to learn and use.   

SUCCESS Computer Consulting can help  

Are you curious about workflow automation, data visualization, or the value those tools could bring to your company? Success Computer Consulting can help.   

We help small to mid-sized companies use the Microsoft ecosystem to achieve their business goals. Our team can support you as you bring these tools onboard, or we can help you get more value out of the tools you already have – including the five digital imperatives we covered here. The result? Your internal IT team can move back to the priorities that matter most to your business.  

Learn more about Microsoft Consulting services for small and mid-sized companies. Contact SUCCESS today. 

3 Tips for Hiring and Managing a Sales Leader

Bringing in a sales leader (whether your first sales leader hire or replacing someone) is a big move.  This person is typically critical to driving the top-line revenue.  Hire a great leader and they can do great things to execute your growth strategy.  Hire poorly and they can do more damage than good –  not only hurting your top-line growth, but also disrupting your team and possibly even losing people.  This role is pivotal, so, it is important to get this decision right.  Following are three tips to help increase your probability of getting a great leader: 


  1. Hire right – This sounds obvious, but companies mess this up all the time.  They typically hire someone with the following characteristics: 
  1. Come from the industry 
  1. Good track record of growing sales 
  1. Knows how to sell 
  1. Good at relationships – they are “people people” 
  1. Good at driving accountability 
  1. Honest/has drive/ethical/etc 

Sounds like a good list, right?  I beg to differ.  Sure these are good traits but it doesn’t get at any specific skills.  You see, all sales leaders do not have the same skillset.  Some are better at being in the field, observing and coaching and developing the team while others are good at strategy and determining where growth will come from.  Some are good at building systems and processes to help the company scale (far fewer of these people) while most are good at running their system.  Some are good at hiring, building and structuring teams while others are good at managing the team you already have.  I could go on and on, but each of these things require different skills and experience.  Your first step in making this hire is to determine which set of skills you need.  Which are most important to executing your growth strategy.  Then, develop your interview questions around these specific skills.  Ask about their experience in whatever skills you’ve identified.  How did they learn it?  Give an example of how they’ve done it well in the past.  



  1. Get really clear on expectations – this is an issue that we clean up a lot. Think about all the decisions that need to be made for this role.  Can they hire/fire?  Can they change budget?  Do they have purchasing authority?  Can they restructure the team?  These are just a few.  Can they do those things on their own or do you want to retain those decisions or can they do it, but ask first?  These may seem obvious, but there is often a chasm between the owner’s answers to these questions as well as the sales leader’s perception of that they can or can’t do.  Likewise, it is important to be clear on what you expect of them every week/month.  I constantly hear things from owners like “I wish my leader would spend more time in the field with their team” or “I wish they were more strategic” or something similar.  When I press them on how much time or what does being more strategic mean, I get two things back – 1) they can’t really define it well, and/or 2) they have not set that clear expectation with the sales leader.  Bottom line is that if you are not super clear about your expectations, they will never live up to them.  The best answer is to require your sales leader to present a plan to you on what they will do each quarter and for the year.  Get specific.  How will they go about getting new clients?  What will they do to retain and grow existing clients?  Where does the team need help and what will they do to develop them?   Make them present a specific plan to you inclusive of the metrics that you will watch together (both leading and lagging) to know if the leader is on track.  


  1. Stay Aligned – this is easier said than done. You get busy.  They get busy.  The result?  You don’t really have formal, structured one-on-ones.  Instead it is “What things do you have on your list? This is on my list.  Let’s talk.”  Or, more commonly, you have frequent, unstructured conversations (we call them fly bys) all the time, and you believe these are an adequate substitute for a good one-on-one.  Whether we do the “fly bys” or the unstructured one-on-ones, owners rarely get at the real meat.  Instead it is the issue of the day or deal of the day.  Do you want to stay super aligned with your leader? Then follow a one-on-one agenda similar to the following: 


  1. What did you commit to last week?  Did you get those things done?  
  1. Yes? Good job.   
  1. No? Why? What do we need to do to make sure it gets done. 
  1. How are you doing vs your plan? (See #2 above).  
  1. On target – all metrics look good.  Celebrate and recognize them for doing a good job. 
  1. Not on target and/or metrics are off.  What are you as the sales leader doing to get back on track? 
  1. What is the forecast?  Note: a pipeline is not a forecast.  We want to know what is real and we can count on it.  As part of that forecast: 
  1. What are we very confident about? 
  1. What is the upside or deals at risk? 
  1. Based on those data points, what should WE forecast? 
  1. How is the team doing?  Is anybody at risk?  Having issues?  Need reinforcement?   What are you as the sales leader doing to develop their skills? 
  1. Issues you have?  Issues I want to discuss? 
  1. Based on all of the above, what are your action items you are committing to for this week? 

If you rinse and repeat this agenda each week, you stay aligned and you know the progress they are making.   


All of this may seem simple, but the execution often fails.  If you want to learn more or need help in this area, we would love to talk to you at www.pivotaladvisors.com.