Most associations have a strategic plan that guides the association in the execution of the vision and mission of the association. Having a strategic plan helps to place the association in the category of being a high-performing association. Characteristics of a high performing association are:

  • The vision and mission of the association are believed and conveyed by all stakeholders
  • The association’s strategy is performance-based with clear, concise directives to put the mission and vision into action
  • The association has goals that are challenging and will impact daily procedures
  • A team environment is evident at all levels
  • Daily operations of the association are efficient with a focus on membership, which allows for knowledge-based decisions to be made.

Many associations can successfully plan strategically to meet their mission but have not taken the time to incorporate a strategic human resources plan, which can boost their performance and set them apart from other associations.

Human Resources Planning

A strategic human resources plan is a process that identifies current and future human resources needs for an association to meet its vision and mission. There should be a link between human resources management and the strategic plan of your association.

The reason for strategic human resources planning is to ensure that your association has the right human resources it needs to achieve the strategic goals of the association. That is, your association has to have the right people at the right time. Things to be considered are:

  • What direction is the association heading in?
  • What HR strategies need to be developed?
  • What type of skills does the association need?

First Steps

To factor in the association’s strategic direction, the first step is to take inventory of the current capacity of the association’s staff. Does your staff have room on their plate to take on more tasks? Do members of your team have the knowledge and background to achieve the tasks that are pertinent in being a high-performing association?

The association manager should also be assessing employees’ performance and inventory beyond the skills they are currently performing in their positions. The association manager should look at employees’ education, training, past work experience and volunteer experience. The manager should then have an open discussion with employees about what contributions they can bring, and what additional responsibilities can potentially be added to their roles.

Looking to the Future

As with all strategic planning, the next step is forecasting the future needs of the association. How many staff will the association require to meet the strategic goals, what positions will need to be filled, and what types of skills do employees need to have? This is also a good time to give current staff opportunities to pursue continuing education, to prepare for the future.

When forecasting, the association manager must also predict the potential challenges that can occur in staffing. For instance, can the association afford to create new positions? Are there changes in the labour market? Can the association be flexible to accommodate employees’ needs outside of the workplace?

Identifying the Gaps

A GAP (Good, Average or Poor) analysis is a great tool for identifying what gaps the association has. The association manager should identify the gaps that should be filled for future operations and provide recommended tasks to fill these gaps. The analysis will provide ways to improve the operations of the association to ensure it performs at a high level.

Some questions to ask in the analysis are:

  • What new positions does the association need?
  • What types of skills does the employee base require?
  • Do existing employees have these skills?
  • Are there enough supervisors or managers?
  • Is the current human resources plan adequate for future needs?

An action plan should then be developed to answer the needs in the GAP analysis. How is the association going to meet the strategic human resources needs? Will the association implement new on-the-job training, or a recruitment process to find new staff, or promote existing staff?

Evaluating the Plan

As with all plans, a strong evaluation plan should be developed. This isn’t limited to employee evaluations, but instead evaluates the association on the way it is working to achieve the strategic direction identified. Have the right positions been created? Are the right staff in the right positions? Have positive adaptations been made to meet the vision, values and mission of the association?

After developing your human resources strategic plan, regular follow-up should occur by the association manager and other members of the leadership team. Benchmarks should be identified and measured to determine if the plan was successful.

Having a human resources strategy in place when implementing your strategic plan will ensure that you have the resources to make your association a high-performance association.