Steve Van Remortel

Securing Talent Planning Success In 2023 With Steve Van Remortel

Having the best strategy in the entire world won’t matter if you don’t have the right people to execute them. Steve Van Remortel guides business leaders on doing talent planning the right way through his eight-step program and his SaaS software company MyTalentPlanner. He speaks to the People Strategy Forum community to share winning strategies on this business aspect this 2023. He delves into the best ways to showcase the strengths of your team, fill in the gaps among your people, and solve internal failures rapidly. Steve also discusses the impact of delivering consistent one-on-one feedback on lowering turnover rates and how to ensure managers are properly developed as effective leaders.

Securing Talent Planning Success In 2023 With Steve Van Remortel

We have a fun topic for you. We’re talking about talent planning for success in 2023. We’re still at the very start of the year, so it’s not too late to get those talent plans in motion. We have a very cool speaker for you to help you do that. A little bit about the show if this is your first time reading this or maybe you signed up and you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into, this is a fun conversational discussion where we are trying to engage, energize, and elevate your employees and company. We come together and we have an expert panel of hosts and then we also bring on a guest speaker as well.

Let me introduce you to everybody that we have on the panel. I’ll start with Char. She’s been a regular for a long time, so I’m sure many of you know who she is. She has years of experience working in human resources, talent management, and career coaching. She owns multiple small businesses and is starting a new venture. We could call it assisted-living senior planning maybe.

It’s a network to help our senior community. They call it the Silver Tsunami and that’s basically what I do.

We also have Sumit who has years of experience also in talent management, diversity and inclusion, and strategy. He’s helped many companies transform their human resources department and their talent management systems as well. We also have Howard who works with CompTeam. He has years of experience working as a compensation advisor, and also has helped transformed companies with their compensation software so that they can be more efficient. We also have Sam who is the Founder and CEO of CompTeam, and he brings us this forum each and every week. He is an expert when it comes to talent initiatives and compensation programs. That’s our panel. As you can see, there’s a lot of experience there in different areas. We’re in the best hands.

Our guest speaker is Steve Van Remortel. He is the Founder and CEO of MyTalentPlanner. He’s also an award-winning author, speaker, advisor, entrepreneur, and investor. He’s doing it all. He’s a busy guy. We appreciate that he could take some time out for us to walk us through one of his talent planning methodologies. It’s going to be a great conversation because we’ll be going over one of his talent planning templates. There are eight steps so get your notes ready. Steve, thank you so much for joining us.

My pleasure, thank you.

Can we start off by learning a little bit more about you? I would love to know more about how you got into the business of talent and helping companies out in developing their businesses. What fostered that passion?

I discovered in college that one of my passions in life was strategy. I took a night course and the professor was a business person during the day. He started talking about how companies differentiate themselves and why would I do business with this company versus that company. That started it for me. I then went back for my Master’s in Strategy after my undergraduate degree.

I was in sales for 7 or 8 years and then I got the opportunity to run a company. We put the strategy and put talent plan in place and took it from $5 million to $30 million. We had a good strategy and talent fundamentals. That majority owner sold it and I started looking for another business to run. The common message back to me was, “Steve, I’m not ready to give you that job yet, but while you’re looking, why don’t you help us?” That was several years ago.

We started helping people with strategy. Initially, the consulting firm was Stop The Vanilla. Be unique, be different, and have a differentiation. I learned right away after the first year of doing a lot of strategy work that without a conversation around your talent, the strategy doesn’t matter. We added talent planning to our strategic planning back in 2000, and we’ve been doing strategy and talent planning since.

You have a book as well, right?

I have three books. Stop Selling Vanilla Ice Cream was the first one, and that’s a book on strategy and talent and how to differentiate your company. The second book is Stop the Vanilla in Your Career and Life, that’s about having a differentiated life and identifying your mint chocolate chip. What do you love to do and how can you build your career around it? The third book that we are publishing is Talent Planning. It’s on the topic that we’re talking about now.

PSF 60 | Talent Planning

Talent Planning: How to Solve Your People Issues to Accelerate Growth

No ice cream theme in the most recent book? You had me there for a while. I was like, “I’m going to buy every one of them.”

We used the ice cream theme, but Talent Planning is its own unique idea, so we wanted to treat it that way.

Every company out there is different. Making sure that there is an appropriate approach for them is important. A lot of companies always ask me, “What is the best practice out there? What is Google doing? What is Amazon doing?” You should be more concerned about what you’re doing and how it fits your people, especially in smaller businesses. It’s important to define your strategic advantage. What is your big drive? Why do you see it important to have a unique approach for each of these businesses that you’re involved in?

When you have a clear differentiation, a lot of things take care of themselves. When customers have to come to you because they can’t get what you provide at the same level from someone else, that drives revenue and gross profit. It gives your sales team an easy thing to sell. Having differentiation is a pillar of the success of an organization. The funny thing about it is that we, as consumers, go to certain stores and restaurants because they have something we want and we’re willing to pay more for it because it’s what we want. That same principle applies to our business as well. If you don’t want to sell vanilla, then you can get negotiated more on price.

That sounds great. In the past several years and before then as well, talent is a big factor. In the last few years, it’s been a lot of turmoil in the market. A lot of people trying to decide and redefine what they want to do in life. Where do they want to go? What business do they want to work with? You’ve designed an entire approach around this for businesses to follow, is that right?

It’s called Talent Planning. The fundamental practicality around it is we have all these plans in our life. I counted that I have 22 plans in my life here. I have a workout plan, a plan for my weekend, and a vacation plan, but the irony is how come we don’t put a plan in place for the number one thing limiting the growth of our company or where our leaders spend most of their time, on the people side of the business.

I was in the last company that I ran and we were growing. We went from $5 million to $10 million to $15 million. Every conversation the leadership team had was around our talent issues. We thought, “Why don’t we put a talent plan in place?” We did and that accelerated us to $30 million. I learned as a leader that if you don’t plan for talent, your strategy doesn’t matter because you’re not going to be able to execute it. When I was running that organization, it was very impactful for me and that’s what led to creating the talent planning process.

I find that very interesting. I’m also running my own businesses and supporting companies with their talent management strategy. I often see that organizations put what they call their scoreboard, which includes financials and the status of outcomes, etc. I’m starting to read articles and also embrace why not be 100% transparent with your talent plan with all the employees in the organization.

For example, in 2022, I had a company with 30 employees and I was extremely transparent with all of my employees as far as trying to find the right talent. Who would you like to work next to? Who does your talent complement and how they can complement you? In the company that I ran, I talked about the number of openings and the talent that we’re looking for. Also, I posted that on the wall next to our other strategies so that the company believes that finance, operations, and people are all important. My question is what do you think of that concept?

Talent planning is something that is done across the organization. Let’s say you have a three-year vision for your company. That means that you have a three-year talent plan for your leadership team. Everything needs to happen over the next three years to help us achieve that vision. You then have a three-year talent plan for each department. Over time, you then put a three-year talent plan in place for each person. All that can and should be shared with the organization because I believe in a total transparent organization. It’s very vulnerable. We call it being hot, honest, open, and transparent.

The only exception to that Char would be if the leader may be newer in the organization, he or she is building out their team and need to replace a person. That’s where there is some level of confidentiality to a talent plan, but once a leader gets his or her team in place and they feel really good about it, oftentimes they then do share the talent plan in total. You have to respect the confidentiality of some of the items in that talent plan, but in general terms, I totally agree with you, “Here’s where we’re going. Here’s what the plan is around our talent. Here’s how we’re going to get there,” because everybody in the organization values from knowing that, to your point.

There is some level of confidentiality to a business’ talent plan. But once leaders get their team in place and they feel good about, they often share their talent plan in total. Share on X

I see it as our employees are also the best recruiters ever because they say, “I work with the best organization ever. I love my leadership. The opportunities are amazing.” It was extremely effective for my organization. I do agree with you on confidentiality. I didn’t let my employees know that we were potentially exiting one of our senior leaders and that was confidential from an HR perspective.

Our philosophy is we want to teach leaders how to fish, not fish for them. We want to teach them how to do talent planning or how to be talent planners. There’s a company that we taught how to do this a couple of years ago. When he has an opening in his organization, he has stacks of resumes. He does not have openings in his business. Why? The whole community knows that if you go work at this organization, they’re going to put a talent plan in place for you. They’re going to invest in you.

The irony is that when he goes through the process of putting a development plan and a career plan in place for each person that starts in their business, sometimes there isn’t a path for them and he helps them find then what the right path is in another organization. It’s a breakthrough. He has doubled twice in size in eight years because everybody in his industry is getting limited by their people issues. He doesn’t have those. He is dominating in his industry. That’s the result of the talent plan.

I do know that you have an eight-step program that you go through. Perhaps, we should go through all eight and list them off to let our readers know what’s coming up and then we’ll dive into the first one. The first one is to understand the strength of your team. The second one is potential weaknesses and blind spots. The third step is knowing your high potentials and how to retain them. The fourth is understanding those skill gaps and how do you have development and hire the right people. There are development priorities for each of your direct reports, prioritize promotion, and new hires in that timetable, have succession plans in place, and then also put together action plans. Let’s start at the top of all of this, find the strengths and talent of your team members.

Let’s say we’re putting a talent plan together for the leadership team. What are the strengths of our leadership team? Where are we good? I use the example of the last company I ran. One of the strengths of our organization was our sales organization. We went from $5 million to $10 million to $15 million, so we were growing. Backing up, the strengths, what do we need to leverage in our organization? Where are we strong and how do we take advantage of those strengths on our leadership team?

It takes us to the next one, what are the blind spots of our team? In that last company I ran, our operations leadership was a blind spot for us. We had to then get the right person in that role eventually over time. What are the blind spots or weaknesses of our leadership team that we need to solve as part of this talent plan over the next three years? That’s fundamentally what that step is.

The next step is who are the high potentials we need to retain. Going through COVID and the pandemic is all about retention for companies. If we retain our core, are we going to be okay? It’s identifying who the high potentials are that we need to retain. It’s important. What are the retention strategies that we’re going to execute to make sure that we retain them?

The fourth one is with the strategy that we’re going to execute over the next three years, what skillset gaps do we have on our leadership team that we either need to fill through development, which is your first preference or through a new hire? The next step is what are development priorities for the people on the leadership team that can maybe backfill some of those? An example would be is if we’re implementing lean manufacturing. We don’t have that skill on our leadership team. Do we develop that on our team? Would that be a new hire that we bring in? Would we outsource that? That’s a simple example.

The next one is, what are the prioritized promotions or new hires we’re going to make over the next three years to build the team out? It may be hiring a person and maybe promoting current people you have, but it’s what are the steps we’re going to take over the next three years to build out the team. The last step is succession planning. We have to make sure that we have good knowledge transfer to make sure that we have good succession going on.

The last step is in our software, MyTalentPlanner, the talent plan for the leadership team can only be seen by the leader. It’s their plan. To Char’s point, a lot of our leaders share that talent plan in due course or in due time, but this is where they keep their notes and the things that they have to get done. Some of them can’t be in a public setting. The talent plan is the leadership’s game plan over the next three years and how we get the team from where it is now to where it needs to be to deliver that vision that the team put in place.

Let’s take it from the top there. The first thing you mentioned was identifying the strengths of your team. Is there a particular process you follow to understand the strengths of each team member and the strengths of the team itself?

We use behavioral science. It’s objective data versus subjective or emotional. We believe in using science to have those types of conversations and identify those types of things. I would love to know any other panelist’s opinion about when you sit down and talk to a leader about his or her team, they don’t typically need a lot of processes to think through where are we good on our team and where we need to shore up our team. That’s what their work thinking through on a daily basis. We have thought processes that we can put in place. It’s something that I’m grinding on all the time, to be honest with you.

There’s a true element to that. Sumit, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. One thing that I often find especially when talking to leaders is they’re wearing rose-colored glasses to some extent. They understand their impression of the team, their strengths, and their weaknesses. Sometimes they model this after their own behavior and so forth, but there can be some blind spots. What do you think, Sumit?

As you said, there can be blind spots, and easy for a leader to fall into the trap of looking for traits that they seem to recognize from a younger version of themselves. There are examples of this behavior in corporates, in sports, and everywhere where your own conscious and unconscious biases lead you to think of your team in a certain way.

To get around that, one of the things that I do when I’m consulting with relatively smaller or medium-sized companies is to start thinking about succession and scientific ways of competency assessment right in the beginning. Before you grow too large and before some of those biases start damaging your organization, address them proactively. Start when you’re small, it’ll get embedded into the organization’s DNA is what I suggest, at that point.

Steve, I’d like to know your opinion on forming different types of teams. Right now, we often hear a lot about diversity and inclusion and so forth. There’s been science out there that shows that good diversity can create a high-performing team in different aspects. Let’s talk about the different types of team strategies. You might have innovation as one of the objectives of a team where you might want to have very diversified people that have different experiences to create that advantage. For others, it may be being fast and it may be more advantageous to have people of similar mindsets that can deliver that speed without a lot of dialogue to take action. What are your thoughts? Have you witnessed these different types? What’s your approach to moving forward?

That’s the essence of talent planning. Talent planning includes your strategy, your talent, and your execution. People often say to me, “Steve, why is strategy in your talent planning process?” In order for us to know what talent we need, we first have to know where we’re going. If our strategy is to drive innovation, then our talent plan has to bring the skillsets to deliver innovation.

Being from Green Bay, Wisconsin, when the Green Bay Packers lose, there are a lot of bad decisions made the next day because it’s based on if the Packers won or lost. That should have nothing to do with it. It should be what our talent plan needs to be to deliver this strategy and this vision that we put together. To your point, if innovation is one of the pinnacles or the pillars of our strategy, then how does our talent plan backfill that? One of the coolest things about talent planning is it ties all of our talent plans to our strategy, which fundamentally should be words tied to.

Sumit, did you have something that you wanted to add in there?

Yes. In fact, I was thinking of what you said about inclusion and diversity in the context of talent planning. This research of diverse teams being more innovative is often wrongly implemented by companies. If you’re not doing the talent planning bit, simply collecting diverse people is not going to make you more innovative. You have to have your business strategy well-defined.

The reason why diverse teams seem to be more innovative is that companies who’ve already done the talent planning bit and go on to build diverse teams find value in those great ideas and often have shorter times to market as well. It’s embedded into the way they work. I’ve seen that this research has been misinterpreted by organizations that seem to believe that by collecting people from different parts of the globe, race, education, or kinds of backgrounds, you’re going to be more innovative. No, that’s not happening.

That’s a great point there, Sumit. Steve, as we were talking about understanding the strengths of a team in the executive context as well, you’ve gone through that analysis and determined the objective of where you want this team to go. Is it innovation, as Sumit said, speed to market, or whatever that may be? You then identify that there are gaps in your team. What do you do next?

You lay out the plan to fill those gaps. A majority of leaders want to try to promote within. They want to fill gaps through development. That’s the primary focus. Do I have somebody on my team that can fill this gap? If they don’t have the hard skills to do it, experience, and education, can we develop those? If we don’t think we can get there through development, then is the new hire or would we outsource it and use maybe a consultant to help us bring that skillset? What comes next is the planning part of talent planning. How do we make sure that we have all the skillsets we need on the team to deliver the strategy that we put together?

To dig in a little bit there when we’re talking about, “We have this gap. Let’s look into the organization to see if we can find somebody that we can develop for this particular gap or let’s look outside and bring in somebody new.” I often find especially in developing companies, they fail to look at their own talent pool or organization. What are some of the problems that you see associated with that failure of looking at your internal team first?

One of the core tenets of talent planning and core tenets of what you talked about is one-on-ones. When you’re having the one-on-ones, you’re developing the total person. In this world, you can’t develop the work person. The younger generations, the Millennials, they’ll leave because they want their organization to invest in the total person.

In today’s world, you can’t develop the work person. Millennials are now looking for organizations that invest in the total person. Share on X

As you’re having one-on-ones, you’re having the conversations with people, “This is where I want to go. This is what I want to accomplish. This is my career path through this organization.” All of a sudden, you’re hearing where they want to go and how does that now fit into our talent plan? If a company is not doing consistent one-on-ones, their turnover is going to be higher. They’re not going to understand the skillsets as well that they have in their organization because the one-on-one is the opportunity for a two-way conversation on how can they bring more to the business and how can the company bring more and invest more in them.

In MyTalentPlanner, we built one-on-ones in there because they’re fundamental to talent planning because if you don’t do one-on-ones, you’re going to get two-week notices. If you did a one-on-one every month, you would’ve known that person was disenfranchised or was thinking about leaving. It gives you the opportunity to resolve that issue or at least work through it versus having an open position that I wasn’t prepared for.

How do you feel about the skills inventory or allowing employees to self-identify skillsets that they have? Sometimes I find in the past you have people that are very quiet and introverted, and they may have skills that you have no clue that they have or background and experience in things that you would never imagine. All of a sudden, it’s like, “I didn’t know that. We could absolutely capitalize on this.”

To me, it’s a combination of the objective or the behavioral science and the conversations or the subjective, and understanding the total skillset that they bring to the table. A lot of times when we’re doing interviews for a client or we’re coaching them on how to interview, a lot of times, people will leave off previous positions they had because they think it adds too much to the revenue or to the resume. In fact, a lot of that experience will make you better at the job that you’re applying for. That’s all documented in their individual talent plan.

A question from the audience ties in with that. The question was, when do you think it’s appropriate to promote? Should they link it to when they do the performance evaluations or at any time of the year and to the discretion of management?

My opinion is that performance evaluations are not one-time a yearly thing. They are consistent conversations in your one-on-ones all the time. It’s about the timing and executing the talent plan. It’s not tied to the evaluation. To me, it’s any time of year that it makes sense to make those moves you make. One of the other features that we built into MyTalentPlanner was the start, stop, and continue. It’s one of the simplest tools that you can use in a conversation. “What can the company start doing, stop doing, and continue doing to help me perform better? What do I need to start doing, stop doing, and continue doing?” I have start, stop, and continue conversations consistently with each of my team members. It’s a consistent evaluation on both sides, not just once a year, and how are we doing?

PSF 60 | Talent Planning

Talent Planning: Performance evaluations are not a one-time yearly thing. They must be consistently communicated with the team.


That’s very important to consider. One other thing, I would like to add in there as well is if we were thinking about the right times for promotions or the right times for certain types of salary actions, the first thing that we need to think about is that overall an important company-wide approach as far as fairness. The first thing is if we’re a small organization, then it’s quite easy to do these things on a one-off basis when you’re having those discussions.

As you grow and you become larger and pretty soon you might find yourself having 100, 200, 300 people, and so forth. Instead, we’re thinking about, “If I continue with these one-offs, how much administration is this adding to the organization? Are we baking in some inconsistencies in our process? Are we being fair to everybody else in the organization in doing this promotion now or doing this pay increase now when we’re not doing this all together in leveling each other for fairness?” Doing the one-off process is great for those agile small companies, but as you grow, you need to start thinking about consistency, fairness, and process administration which makes things a little bit more complex.

It’s a valid point.

The other piece that you mentioned there is high potentials. One thing I thoroughly believe in is that all organizations, big or small, need to know who their top 10% or 15% of high performers are at all times. We shouldn’t expect them to be the same people every year. People have good years, they have bad years, and so forth, but we do find those individuals that are exceptional that we want to invest in and include in succession plans and developing the organization. What is your process of identifying those high potentials that we need to retain and what should we do next with them?

I’ll go back to the one-on-ones which is one-way. High potentials stand out. They stand out in your organization because they’re excelling in their space or in their area of responsibility. Again, when you have a conversation with a leader, when you ask them who their high potentials are, they pretty quickly have that figured out. I asked them the question, “Who could you least afford to lose right now?” By answering that question, you answered who your high potentials are. Who do I have to retain?

Once we have identified them and know who they are in each group, what’s the next step to ensuring that we’re retaining those people and we’re keeping their attention?

We use this behavioral science called the driving forces and it measures their workplace motivators. Why do they come to work? It’s the why. If you feed their number one and number two why, depending on the level of intensity of that why, your retention rates are going to go way up. A majority of people leave organizations because their why is not being fed. Behavioral science tells us their why and then we put strategies in place to feed their why and the retention goes way up.

PSF 60 | Talent Planning

Talent Planning: If you feed your top team members the why, retention rates will go up depending on the intensity of your why.


A great example, the number one motivator in the workplace right now is to learn. It’s called the intellectual driving force. I have a team member and one of my direct reports has a 95 out of 100 on his intellectual. I’m buying him a book once a month. I’m sending him the conferences and we have our one-on-ones. He always has a development plan in place because if I continue to give him the opportunity to learn, the retention rates go way up. Retention to me is around feeding the why of each person on your team.

You mentioned having that development in plan in place for each one of your team members. Can you tell us the process of putting together that development plan? You mentioned some people have a different why. They may thrive on having that education and so forth, but are there other aspects of a development that we can highlight there?

In the development plan that we’ve built out, there are their do’s and don’ts of communication. “To effectively communicate with Steve, what are the do’s and don’ts?” We talk about the strengths that they bring to the organization. What do we need to leverage? We talk about their blind spots and their growth opportunities. We talk about their professional and their personal goals. We talk about their potential career paths in the organization. We also talk about what relationships they need to develop in the organization or externally to facilitate their development.

It’s about putting 2 or 3 action plans in place that are focused on the development priority that has the greatest impact on your professional or personal life. I’ve done thousands of development plans. Let’s say we’re focusing on three development priorities. At least one of those will be personal if not two because life is not easy. We all have issues. If somebody told you that they don’t have an issue, that’s their first issue. It’s about being focused on each individual and putting a development plan together that makes sense for them. That gives you some idea of what we see in development.

When we’re looking at the development plan, what’s the timeline that we should be thinking about in this plan? You can have a development plan that’s saying, “In ten years, I want to go from A to Z.” When we’re thinking about the timeline and making things in bite-size pieces or certain milestones, what timing should we consider on this?

In talent planning, to make the process agile, we execute in sprints. You could have a 3-month sprint, a 4-month sprint, or a 6-month sprint. I like 4 months sprints 3 times a year because it gives our team a longer runway to execute. I tie in updating the development plans. You’re constantly looking at them in your one-on-ones and you make tweak changes in those one-on-ones, but I tie updating the development plan with our sprints.

In this sprint, we’re focused on these goals and then we reevaluate our goals, and then we set our goals for the next four months. Maybe those goals in that four months drive certain development and certain team members. We call it the execution cadence. What is the cadence or rhythm of the organization to execute this plan? I find that if companies execute in 3 or 4-month sprints, they tie their development to those sprints as well.

That’s great. I’m thinking about how that comes together there. The other piece when we think about having that development plan and then also having a succession plan, are they somewhat related? How do you execute that?

A succession plan would be part of a person’s development plan. Based on your comment, where people are looking at work differently. “I want to do a career shift and I’m going to be exiting the organization.” I have one client that they’re investing in the total person and one of his direct reports wants to be a chef. He fixes generators right now. They’re investing in him becoming a chef. Eventually, he will lead the organization and become a chef. That’s one of the upsides of investing in people both personally and professionally. They’re putting a succession plan in place. Succession planning is identified as part of your development plan if you’re the person that is the one that’s making the change.

PSF 60 | Talent Planning

Talent Planning: Succession planning is identified as part of your development plan if you are the one in charge of making changes in the team.


We’ve gone through a lot of your eight steps there, but one thing I want to highlight before we get too far away from it is managers meeting with their employees, developing their employees, and creating succession plans, all of this requires good management acumen. For a lot of companies out there, that’s one of their biggest pain points. Their managers aren’t developed effectively. They’re not having those great conversations and they’re not developing their people. When we’re thinking about creating the talent plan together and executing this for a company, where does manager training come into place, and should that intersect here?

I’ll give you a live example. I’m working with a company that has a lot of turnovers in its manufacturing space. We’re going to put a talent plan in place and we’re going to train the frontline supervisors on talent planning and how to do one-on-ones. All employees want is to know that their organization cares about them and that they invest in them. We’re going to start doing one-on-ones with the people on the manufacturing floor or the production team. We’re going to treat them like we treat somebody that’s working in the office. You train talent planners at every level of your organization. It starts with the leadership team first, and then your managers, and your frontline supervisors.

Our core strategy with this business is to train their frontline supervisors on talent planning so that we can ebb this turnover or retention issue we have. Start investing in those people like they were working in the office like we’ve been doing with everybody else. You train talent planners at every level of the organization because then you’re retaining your people and they’re using processes and tools that help them. High potentials succession plans in place and think through all the things that are in a talent plan.

You do talent planning at every level of the organization. Now, you have people that are trained on doing it at every level of the organization because our focus isn’t necessarily training the leadership team on talent planning. That’s going to change the direction of that organization. Right now, their growth is limited because they don’t have enough people. They have 40 positions open. I will never tell you that talent planning will take it down to zero, but it’ll take 40 positions open down to 10 or something along those lines. Think about how much time, effort, and resources we saved by having 10 positions open versus 40. That would be my answer to that question.

Let’s take this conversation to something that’s a little bit timely and sensitive. Right now, there are a lot of companies out there that are doing layoffs. You’re in the Denver area, Zoom announced that they’re laying off 1,500 people or 15% of their workforce. Other companies and smaller companies are also considering this in their manufacturing saying, “There’s a slowdown,” or they over-hired. They might be going through a layoff.

Now during layoffs, the surviving employees start thinking, “Maybe you should jump off this thinking ship and go somewhere else,” and they’re losing their key players. Leaders, at the same time, are going, “Maybe we need to add some AI into our organization or add in some productivity enhancement to replace some of our talents.” There’s a lot of potential fear that is going on out of all of this. When we’re thinking about right-sizing organizations, and managers having effective conversations, what are you seeing in your space and how do you advise your leaders on these issues?

Our space is SMB, so we focus on Small to Medium-sized Businesses. I am not experiencing layoffs yet there. I’m experiencing shortages. We’re seeing layoffs in large organizations, but I’m not experiencing it that, at least in my space. That’s not a conversation that I have very often. If I would need to have that conversation, the talent planning would be around making sure that we retain the essential skills or essential people to execute our strategy.

One of the things that always fascinated me was early in my career, I did a couple of turnarounds. When somebody comes in to do a turnaround, they say, “We got to get rid of 100 people,” and they just cut. It’s got to be based on some thought process, “We need the skillset of that person.” It’s based on need and skillset, not based on numbers. That would be my take from a standpoint for larger organizations right now because larger organizations are experiencing that. Again, I’m not experiencing that in the SMB space as much. Would you guys concur with that or are you seeing that as well?

I’m glad that’s not in that smaller category. Sumit, in some of the larger global companies that have been doing layoffs, what are you seeing as a big consequence of their actions by having this come too easy to them?

The biggest consequence is that there’s not enough conversation about the people who are still part of the organization and where they fit into the talent plan. Is it more an outcome of simply hiring projections that have gone wrong during the pandemic and now companies are having to quickly readjust because of recessionary fears and various other economic criteria? What about people who are either sitting on the fence and are essentially in freeze mode thinking about, “Am I going to be next?” People who’ve been high performers, “I’m not going to get paid enough. There’s going to be no merit increase because we seem to have hit a difficult phase?”

It would be good to extend some of what Steve spoke about to folks who are currently in the organization. We need to focus more on making it worthwhile for them and extend the right support to them because, in all seriousness, you do need those folks to take the organization forward and prevent more people from losing their jobs.

I totally agree there.

Thank you very much, Steve. Sitting in the executive seat as a Chief HR officer or HR strategist and talent management strategy, we’re taught that we need to be credible activists as it relates to talent management strategy. Being in those positions, it’s been a struggle in the traditional aspect of HR attempting to influence the executive team in regards to talent management strategy and increasing the competency level of an HR professional to understand.

If you see in the SHRM study, which might be a little outdated, only 20% of our HR teams or talent management strategists have the competencies to do that. What is your advice to the people strategists and HR professionals in an organization that needs to influence the executive team to take the time to focus on development and succession management, and all of the discussions that you discussed? What would you recommend that professional do?

I would keep it simple and say, “Do you got a plan for your weekend?” The executives say, “I do. We’re doing this.” “What’s the number one issue that we face on a daily basis?” “Our people challenges and our people’s stuff. “ “How about we put a talent plan around that?” I’m a very practical person, when I discovered talent planning, it’s so simple and it makes total sense. I have them feel it in their life.

I do this with leaders when I speak and the first question, I ask them is, “Do you guys have a plan for your weekend?” They’re all shaking heads and shouting out all these plans. “How about we put a talent plan in place?” They’re all like, “Let’s do it.” Keep it simple and impress upon them that not only is this something that we should do, but the companies that are going to do it are the ones that are going to win in every industry. The companies that win at talent win in their industry. They dominate their industry. My experience is that impacts leaders to movement or action.

Companies that win at talent win and dominate their industry. This impacts leaders to movement or action. Share on X

I love your response because I have a tendency to be a little too complicated with my talent management strategies. You’re right. That’s great advice. I love that approach. Thank you for that response.

One other thing I’d bring up too as we continue to share talent planning and MyTalentPlanner with a lot of organizations is that there’s this thought process, “I don’t have enough time on my plate the way it is. How am I going to add this to my plate?” If you have 40 open positions and now you have 10, you took a lot of time off your plate. Talent planning does not take more time, it saves time.

There were two drivers that motivated us here to build MyTalentPlanner. The generational mass shows us that talent is going to continue to be the number one issue for SMBs for years to come. Technology disruption is happening in the strategic HR space. More companies, especially those that are proactive in addressing their talent issues and their challenges are using technology to do it. That’s what drove us. There was not something that SMB leaders could use technology-wise to make it easier. I’ve been doing talent planning for many years manually.

I was with the company doing talent planning and with the use of technology, makes it so simple because all you do is log in and everything you did last time is there and you keep building on it. You don’t have to search and paper, and all that stuff. My encouragement to companies is to think about would talent planning bring value to their organization. MyTalentPlanner is a technology tool that helps automate and scale it. When I go into a room to talk to leaders, we focus on talent planning. If they think it’ll help their organization, then MyTalentPlanner is an option for them. It’s a tool that helped them do it easier and quicker.

Is there anywhere that people can find the stats for companies that do have talent plans and those that don’t have talent plans?

We have a slide deck that has some statistics in it or proof of concept that it works. I have those available and I can make those available to you however you want to distribute them.

How can our readers get ahold of you?

It’s [email protected]. We have two entities, MyTalentPlanner, which is the SaaS software company. That’s at, and then our strategy and talent planning consulting firm is and [email protected]. I’d be more than happy to share talent planning. I’ll share MyTalentPlanner with any leader. The fundamental message to them is to think about where you’re headed, and where everything is going, and consider it for your organization. The results of what it does for your organization cleared Jule’s question.

I appreciate your time here, Steve. Before we go, can they find your book on Amazon? Is it available in audio?

Stop Selling Vanilla Ice Cream and Stop the Vanilla in Your Career Life are on Amazon. Talent Planning is an eBook, which is downloadable from We’re publishing it. I’m finishing all that up. Writing a book does not fit my natural behavioral style. Reach out. Our philosophy is we want to teach you how to fish, not fish for you. If there’s something you’re trying to get done, we’ll give you the templates and the process, and go for it.

Talent planning is something that organizations take on and own. Talent planning is not something that you could have a consultant do with you all the time. It’s something that you embed in your organization and create this culture of talent planning. It’s something that all of your leaders and managers over time will do.

Thank you so much, Steve, for sharing your knowledge. It’s been a great conversation. It’s helped a lot of people out there.

Thank you for having me on. I love the show. There’s nothing more important strategy in your life than that right now if you’re leading the business, right?

That’s right.

Thank you for having me.

We appreciate you.

Thank you, everyone. See you next time. We’ll bring up these important coming your way.

Thanks, everyone.

Thank you. Bye.


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About Steve Van Remortel

PSF 60 | Talent PlanningI help visionary SMB leaders grow their people and organization through Talent Planning + Software.

But how did I get here?

I was a sophomore in college taking my first night course and the professor started talking about strategy and how a company needs to differentiate itself. A light bulb went off and at that moment I discovered that strategy was one of my primary passions in life.

It wasn’t until I joined the leadership team of a company that desperately needed a turn around that I realized my second passion; Talent. As we implemented our differentiated strategy, I realized how critical talent is to the execution of a strategy.

After successfully taking that company from $5 to $30 million, I wrapped my passion for strategy and talent with my natural strengths and created STV Advisors, a strategy and talent planning firm, in 1999.

I have since created a library of 100+ Strategy & Talent methodologies, led over 1,000 Strategy & Talent Planning Sessions across hundreds of industries as well as provided coaching to thousands of leaders.

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PSF 59 | Positive ConfrontationsPSF 61 | Talent Management