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  • Writer's pictureJoe Farris

Feeling Daunted by Your Focal Planning Process? Read This!

focal planning cycle HR meeting with people sitting around an office desk and a woman standing by the white board with sticky notes on it

In the ever-evolving landscape of HR, focal planning emerges as a crucial crossroads that can either drive an organization's growth or act as a roadblock to progress. If you're an HR professional who's ever felt the weight of an impending focal planning process, this article is for you.

Mastering HR Focal Planning: Beyond the Basics

Ask any HR professional what is the key to successful focal planning, and they will tell you that it’s a combination of data-driven decision-making, availability of resources, effective communication, and ongoing evaluation. This is true, but what is this answer missing? Acknowledging the two main realities of focal planning:

1. Resource Crunch: The Overwhelm of Peak Demand

Throughout the year, your HR team operates like a well-oiled machine, managing tasks and requests with finesse. But as the crucial focal planning period draws near, the situation takes a dramatic turn. Suddenly, an avalanche of tasks and demands descends upon your team, leaving them grappling to keep up. This unrelenting peak demand can overwhelm even the most adept HR teams, compromising the quality of outcomes and stretching resources thin.

2. The Perils of Delaying the Focal Planning Process: Racing Against Time

We've all experienced it—time has a habit of slipping through our fingers faster than we can grasp it. Before you know it, the time for focal planning is upon you. A delay in initiating the focal planning process sets the stage for a high-stakes race against time. The repercussions? Compromised strategic decision-making and faltering communication efforts. Moreover, the window for communicating and training managers and leaders—crucial steps for focal planning success—shrinks, potentially impacting quality and effectiveness.

A Comprehensive Approach: The Nua Group Advantage

focal planning cycle meeting in an office

We have helped numerous companies with their focal planning, and the success is based on the two types of support we offer: Embedded Support to develop a focal planning strategy and Staff Augmentation to temporarily supplement the organization's existing workforce, filling skill gaps and meeting the increased work demands.

Unlike typical consultants, at Nua, we bring top-tier expertise to both strategic development and its seamless execution. We offer a comprehensive approach to focal planning that does not leave a single important detail unnoticed. From reviewing and updating salary structures and equity guidelines to reflect the current market, to reviewing technology processes supporting focal planning, and developing a comprehensive plan for manager readiness, arming managers to handle the process in the most efficient way - we have the whole spectrum of HR focal planning covered. And when it's time to execute, our team is ready to step in and take action.

Focal Planning Strategic Focus Areas

During the focal management process, we focus on the following key areas:

1. Strategic Alignment

Focal planning should be closely aligned with the organization's business goals, talent strategy, and budgets. Compensation decisions should support the company's objectives and drive the desired outcomes for employees and for the business.

2. Clear Criteria and Guidelines

We help companies establish clear and consistent criteria for determining compensation adjustments. These criteria should be transparent and easily understood by both managers and employees.

3. Data Accuracy and Analysis

We use accurate and up-to-date data to inform compensation decisions. We analyze market data, internal equity, and pay structures to ensure fair and competitive compensation.

4. Performance Differentiation

We review compensation adjustments in relation to individual and company-wide performance. Rewarding individual performance is often an intuitive but not the most effective solution: we develop tailored solutions for companies depending on their unique circumstances.

5. Manager Training

We develop training for managers on how to effectively assess performance and make compensation decisions. Managers should be equipped to provide constructive feedback and set performance expectations.

6. Budget Management

We help organizations allocate compensation budgets strategically based on performance and organizational priorities and ensure that the budget is distributed equitably and in line with the company's financial constraints.

nua group focal planning cycle meeting laura muldoon and joe farris

7. Communication Plan

We develop a comprehensive communication plan that explains the focal planning process, criteria, and timeline to both managers and employees. Transparency enhances understanding and trust.

8. Consistency and Fairness

We help companies apply compensation decisions consistently across the organization, to ensure that similar performance levels receive similar adjustments, promoting fairness.

9. Manager Accountability

We encourage managers to be accountable for their compensation decisions and the outcomes of focal planning. It’s important to regularly review and audit decisions to ensure compliance with guidelines.

10. Continuous Evaluation

We recommend evaluating the effectiveness of focal planning after each cycle, such as, through collecting feedback from managers and employees to identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments.

11. Flexibility for Special Cases

We are realistic about companies’ special circumstances. While maintaining consistency, we allow flexibility to address unique situations or exceptional performance cases that may not fit the standard criteria.

12. Technology and Tools

We review technology and tools and evaluate their readiness to support the focal planning process. We utilize compensation management software and tools to streamline the focal planning process, manage data, and ensure accuracy in calculations.

13. Leadership Buy-In

We help HR leaders obtain buy-in from top leadership and ensure they support the focal planning process. Their endorsement reinforces the importance of fair and strategic compensation decisions.

14. Adaptability

We always encourage our clients to be prepared to adapt the focal planning process based on changing business needs, industry trends, and feedback from stakeholders.


As tricky as it is, a well-executed focal planning process not only recognizes and rewards high-performing employees but also serves as a platform for cascading strategic goals throughout the organization. It empowers managers to make informed decisions, ensuring a balanced distribution of rewards that mirrors individual and company achievements. If you need help making focal planning smooth and pain-free, we are here to help you make it a success!

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