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The 12-Step Process That HR Needs for Unleashing the Full Potential of Their Workforce

The key to unleashing employee potential lies in establishing the right processes and programs to support leaders and employees at various stages of the HR cycle. The HR cycle is a 12-step process that individuals go through throughout their employment journey from hiring to promotion or role change. In our guide, Using the HR Cycle to Unlock the Potential Within the Organization, we present the strategies and initiatives that HR can pursue to leverage the HR cycle for long-term organizational success.

Recruitment, Orientation, and Onboarding

The recruiting and onboarding steps of the HR cycle present an opportunity for HR to ensure that new hires align to the goals and culture of their organization. The beginning of the HR cycle is the time to examine recruiting activities and ensure they position your organization for future success. During these stages, you can:

  • Showcase your culture. Ensure that recruiting activities and tools highlight your culture as much as the details of the position you’re trying to fill. Use your company career page and social media to express to candidates the personality of your organization and aspects of the culture.
  • Think about orientation partnerships. When a new hire joins, they need to know where the copier is, but they also need to become acquainted with the leaders on their new team that can help them adjust to cultural and work norms. HR can connect new hires with the leaders who will support their success.
  • Train managers to be master communicators. There are many stakeholders in a new hire’s orientation, but people managers have a special role to play in communicating performance objectives and expectations. HR can provide the tools and training support to ensure managers communicate expectations with ease.

Development Plan and Performance Review

The start of a new role, whether the individual is a new hire or a recent transfer, is an ideal time to establish a development plan that will define performance excellence, as well as the skills and experiences needed to get there. You recognize the importance of talent development, but what are some specific actions you can undertake to leverage the HR cycle at this critical stage?

  • Develop a three-year plan. Identify individual development needs and establish a three-year development plan to address them. Specify training program options and work experiences needed for long-term performance excellence.
  • Establish two-way feedback mechanisms. Development planning should also include employee input on their development needs, as well as the experiences they believe will sharpen their leadership skills.
  • Institute quarterly reviews. Quarterly reviews provide real-time opportunities to deliver feedback and address any performance concerns before they become a larger problem.

Succession Planning, Annual Review, and Rewards

The next steps in the HR cycle should work together to motivate individuals to perform to their full potential. Performance results and the rewards tied to them will determine an individual’s opportunities for growth and promotion.

Keep an eye on these activities to ensure you have the right programs in place for organizational success:

  • Create succession plans. Design your succession management program so that high-potentials get priority for key leadership roles and dominate your leadership pipeline.
  • Utilize annual reviews. When quarterly reviews come together into an annual appraisal, identify training and development needs and incorporate them into next year’s budget so that they remain a priority.
  • Rewards and recognition. Link rewards and recognition to a cultural transformation, thereby rewarding the behaviors you want to encourage most.

Career Management and Development

The career management discussion should be a two-way discussion that allows individuals to express their career aspirations to their managers and then discuss options and avenues they can explore to achieve their career goals. HR has an opportunity to support this last step of the HR cycle by ensuring managers are prepared for these discussions and have the necessary skills to communicate career development opportunities with clarity. Role-plays and experiential training opportunities can expand a manager’s toolkit, preparing them to answer the tough questions and engage with their direct reports in meaningful ways.

Leverage Every Step of the HR Cycle

In our extensive guide, we explain how each of the 12 steps of the HR cycle represents an opportunity for HR to deepen leadership talent and capability within the organization. The steps to unleash full workforce potential start at the candidate selection process and repeat each time an individual is promoted or moves into a new role.

HR can be the catalyst for ensuring business leaders have the required skills to support and develop employees as they move along the HR cycle, building organizational and leadership capability along the way.


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