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7 Steps for “Green” Strategic Workforce Planning

This is the first in a series of eight blog posts that focus on Strategic Workforce Planning.

Do you check the weather first thing when you get up in the morning? Have you ever woken up in the morning and not looked outside before getting dressed? It’s unusual for me not to. Is it raining out? Is it hotter or cooler than I expected? Will it be stormy?

Occasionally I look at the weather forecast the night before, to see what I need to prepare myself for. I might also look at the longer-range forecast for the next two or three days.

Sometimes, I look at the ten-day forecast. And when I really want to look longer-term, I’ll go to the Farmer’s Almanac. (Yes, it still exists and it has a good track record for anticipating seasonal weather.)

I ask myself, Are my plans aligned with the weather? Should I postpone the hike I planned for the weekend, or move my get-together with friends to an indoor location? Is there an unexpected weather system starting to make its way through our region, that I should be aware of?

And, should I really look at getting a checkup for my heating and cooling system? Should I look into installing a solar panel on the roof and some accompanying storage? What condition is our generator in?

Strategic workforce planning provides us with the same type of awareness and preparedness on an organizational level. And when we’re prepared for surprises, as my colleague Jim Burke says, we can be more flexible and hopefully respond better to those unexpected changes in the “weather.”

There’s much more to strategic workforce planning though than looking outside the window, metaphorically speaking. It involves several discrete steps that allow us to make the most of qualitative and quantitative data, coupled with insights from team members who are deeply aware of the ongoing needs and challenges of the business.

And it is the ongoing needs and challenges, equally as much as the potential future needs and challenges of the business, that anchor strategic workforce planning. This series will speak in detail about each of the seven steps of the planning process.

Notably, it will apply a “Green” lens to the planning process. Using examples relative to the sustainability field, this series will guide you in understanding and preparing to launch your own strategic workforce planning process.

When we’re aware of potential scenarios of the future, we’re better able to address the gaps that might exist between our current state and the anticipated needs of the business.

For example, we might discover that there’s an additional skill set that we want to start hiring for over the next 18 months, in order to be competitive with emerging needs in the industry. Or, we might decide to implement a training program that helps us to meet that gap.

And, there may be implications for the organization in other divisions or departments, in addition to larger implications for the ongoing viability and direction of the enterprise. This is where tapping into our “meteorology skills” can be tremendously valuable.

Some questions to consider:

  • Has my organization completed a strategic workforce plan in the past?

  • If yes, is it time to review or refresh that plan?

  • How prepared is our organization to address future unexpected “twists and turns” from a workforce perspective?

Can we help with building and sustaining the skills you or your team need to advance professionally?

Reach out to Beth Offenbacker, PhD, CPCC, ACC, at or via phone or text at 703-623-4811 to discuss if our Green Career, Executive/Leadership Coaching, Strategic Workforce Planning, or Learning & Development services are right for you.

We work with professionals and organizations that have a sustainability focus in their work. All services are customized to your needs.

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