Human Capital Strategy Development

Overview Focus Areas Frameworks & Tools Learning Programs Case Studies Insights

Learn how we have helped our clients transform their business:

Accelerate Leader Behaviors and Advance Culture

Background & Challenge:

A global pharmaceutical company seeking to change its organizational culture developed a set of core leadership behaviors. The six behaviors chosen by the high-level task force reflected a critical evolution in the beliefs and behaviors for the company as it accelerated its growth strategy. WLH’s long-term and in-depth involvement in this initiative illustrates the integration of many of our capabilities: diagnosis, planning, design, implementation and facilitation.

Approach and Deliverables

WLH collaborated with the Organizational Effectiveness function to develop the Leader Behaviors 360° Instrument and various tools to drive cultural change. WLH:

  • Helped craft general categories and determined specific behaviorally-based items to reflect key values and strategic focus

  • Developed data collection and feedback process for leaders and direct reports designed to create Individual Development Plans

  • Created a suite of “leader-led” modules to reinforce key leader behaviors and improve team performance. These modules were used to produce immediate, measurable improvements in team effectiveness and to integrate new team members. These modules remain part of the field manager’s toolkit when working with their team. The modules provide an easy, step-by-step guide for ease of facilitation and targeted learning.

  • Created a Manager’s Toolkit to accelerate the practice of the Leader Behaviors which included:

– Learning activities in each of the modules that clearly linked back to the specific items in the Leader Behaviors 360° Instrument

– Assessment checklists for line managers to quickly and accurately identify which of the Leader Behaviors they wanted to     concentrate on developing with their teams in order to improve performance

  • Created and conducted a “Mastering Leader Behavior Development Workshop” which was used as the model to cascade the program to 50 countries


  • The organization’s new Leader Behaviors became the foundation for all Leadership Development initiatives

  • Colleague engagement in the annual Individual Development Planning process increased from 50% to nearly 75% globally in less than 18 months

  • WLH was subsequently engaged to provide executive coaching to select high-potential leaders. Two of the leaders were promoted into Sr. Director and VP positions during the engagement

Accelerating Leadership Development Globally

Background and Challenge:

In an effort to accelerate the widespread commitment and adoption of a global pharmaceutical company’s vision and leadership behaviors, WLH was engaged to develop a cornerstone leadership immersion program.

Approach and Deliverables

From the beginning, WLH worked with the client to ensure the program was seen as a change effort designed to strengthen team and individual leadership capabilities. Participants learned that they can get powerful short and long-term paybacks from the effort put into developing these behaviors in themselves and in their direct reports – thus overcoming the belief that this is “something else I have to do.”

The design of the program required flexibility to adapt to local market conditions and culture. WLH partnered with the Global Leadership function to certify internal facilitators. The program was highly interactive and utilized adult learning and action learning to change how people work together.


The program was developed and piloted in three distinct markets and eventually rolled-out globally. Every country’s leadership team participated in the program and got to use the leader behaviors to solve critical business issues and align on strategic priorities.

Defining Competencies: Market Access Organizational Evolution

Background and Challenge:

A global specialty pharmaceutical company needed to define the competencies and behaviors needed to drive its market access strategy. The organization wanted a core set of competencies for the entire group, while also clearly defining the different behaviors for various roles. This competency model was to be the underpinning of other HR development planning efforts and learning curriculum redesigns.

Approach and Deliverables

When defining competencies, WLH takes a disciplined approach to data collection and model development. WLH interviewed leaders, high performers, and various stakeholders to understand how roles were evolving. WLH drafted various models based on the data input and its extensive competency database. To validate the model(s), WLH worked with leaders and subject matter experts to ensure clarity and accuracy. WLH completed competency models for the Account Management Role, State Government Role, and Reimbursement Services role.

Once the models were complete, WLH supported the roll-out by facilitating workshops. The models were turned into 180° assessments to support development planning. Individual and group needs reports were provided to Learning and Development to incorporate into their curriculum development efforts. Deliverables included revised role descriptions, competency-based interview guides, and development planning guides with customized on-the-job development activities.


WLH worked closely with the leadership team and field leaders to ensure the models reflected the evolving roles and would support the longer term strategy:

  • All groups within the function had updated competency models

  • The entire organization shifted its commitment to development planning and skill development

  • The Learning and Development organization incorporated group learning needs into subsequent national meetings and a revised Market Access curriculum

  • All hiring efforts utilized updated competency-based interview guides to identify talent with unique skill sets and experience to propel the organization

Developing a Premier Employer Strategy

Background and Challenge:

The international divisions of a global pharmaceutical company sought to create a Premier Employer strategy to attract and develop talent. WLH provided partnership to design the strategy and work with Human Resources leadership to implement the strategy globally.

Approach and Deliverables

To enhance the overall human capital effort, WLH revamped the performance management processes, competency models, and development tools. To reduce turnover, WLH leveraged its Rx for Retention predictor model for use in local countries.


The premier employer strategy was successfully rolled out throughout the European, Asian, Middle East, and Latin American regions. The principles in the performance management and talent development efforts are still in place today.

Healthcare HR Strategy and Workforce Planning

Background and Challenge:

WLH Consulting, Inc. worked with the senior leadership team from one of the largest not-for-profit health plan and delivery systems in the nation. This leadership team understood that there are many trends impacting the delivery of healthcare in the workplace. Rather than being reactive, they dedicated time to understanding these trends and chose to develop overall strategies to attract, develop, and retain talent. HR, in partnership with cross-functional teams, implemented initiatives to improve employee engagement, talent acquisition, and leadership development.

Approach and Deliverables

WLH compiled the latest research on workforce planning trends impacting large healthcare systems. Executives were provided a report for pre-work prior to the senior leadership team offsite. At the offsite, senior leaders aligned on key priorities and actions.


The output and recommendations from the session became priorities for the overall Human Capital Strategy plan. Senior leaders took ownership of various initiatives designed to reduce turnover and increase retention of critical employee population groups.

Integrated Human Capital Strategy for a Global Animal Health Company

Background and Challenge:

A leading global animal health company asked WLH to help create and deploy a human capital strategy. There were two drivers for this engagement. First, the organization was evolving its customer engagement efforts with a focus on account management. Secondly, the company was experiencing an alarming rate of colleague attrition in key roles. The company had poorly defined career progression ladders, which was a significant source of frustration for those interested in advancing in the company. The goal of the strategy was to attract, develop, and retain the best managers and colleagues in various country markets.

Approach and Deliverables

  • Defined and validated the key leadership capabilities to support its new mission and strategic objectives

  • Created career progression ladders for the sales and marketing teams that clarified the capabilities, time, and accomplishments needed for advancement in role

  • Turned capabilities into a 360° Feedback Instrument and administered it for the client

  • Trained coaches to support the feedback process

  • Created innovative, intense, discovery-based workshops to train managers to accelerate development of these capabilities

  • Created learning modules (print and CD-ROM) to strengthen leadership capabilities at the team level and linked them to improved business performance

  • Implemented retention strategies to keep high-potential managers

  • Launched a talent planning process to identify leadership needs, specific candidates, and monitor initiatives

  • Created metrics to gauge success of the talent planning initiative


  • The animal health company’s team leader turnover rate declined significantly in key markets the year following its engagement with WLH

  • Colleague engagement, as measured by an annual Gallup Survey saw statistically significant increases in the areas of development support and feedback provided

  • Colleagues from the sales function in key markets received clarity and documentation for the first time on what was needed to get promoted

Market Access Learning Strategy and Curriculum

Background and Challenge:

WLH’s involvement with a Market Access group’s transformation and competency model development included evaluating the group’s learning strategy and curriculum. Given the changes in the marketplace, the organization knew its account executives needed a higher level of business acumen and account management skills. Additionally, the organization needed to balance the amount of product and disease state knowledge given the extensive portfolio.

Approach and Deliverables

WLH worked with the learning group and field colleagues to develop an overall curriculum and an approach to meet individual learning needs. This effort empowered field directors and account executives to shore up skills needed to be more effective on-the-job and with customers.


WLH created a customized Market Access Curriculum roadmap. Directors and Account Executives leveraged the competency-based development assessment to identify strengths and development needs. In partnership, the director and account executive created individualized learning plans. Collectively, the Learning and Development function leveraged the group report to identify group needs and develop a strategy to close those needs by designing special content sessions on the evolving marketplace.

Organizational Restructuring of a Large Operations Group

Background and Challenge:

After a major corporate reorganization, the medical operations group of a global pharmaceutical corporation sought new synergies through restructuring while continuing uninterrupted service to its internal and external stakeholders. WLH worked with senior leaders to develop the group’s strategy, design its structure, and identify operational efficiencies.

Approach and Deliverables

To approach the redesign in a rigorous manner, WLH conducted a diagnostic with senior leaders and stakeholders to understand the organizations’ areas of effectiveness and opportunities for improvement. In addition, workforce capacity needs were assessed to identify opportunities to streamline processes and balance workloads. With a focus on change management and effective strategic implementation, WLH developed a comprehensive plan to determine how the organizational structure impacted workflow, team configuration, and customers.

WLH partnered with the client to:

  • Redesign core processes, create new process maps, and update SOPs

  • Create role descriptions for all Medical Operations’ positions

  • Facilitate high-level, cross-functional teams coordinated across the larger organization and to resolve open issues

  • Design on-boarding toolkits for new members of the functional subdivisions

  • Work with business unit and third-party systems designers to develop and implement multiple new data and reporting systems

  • Manage the project with daily updates on milestone achievements to ensure business continuity

  • Shift and re-assign responsibilities to increase efficiency and colleague productivity


With WLH’s support, the client successfully re-defined the roles and responsibilities of the Medical Operations team while maintaining business continuity. WLH also identified and helped address process inefficiencies that significantly reduced expenses for the function. WLH worked with internal leaders to train employees on all new processes and upgrade skills related to decision-making, cross-functional alignment, and influencing without authority. The structure and process improvements implemented during the restructuring remained in place for more than six years.

Post Merger Integration: Strategic Implementation and Culture Transformation

Background and Challenge:

WLH was asked by the senior leadership team from one of the largest global animal health companies to lead and manage the post-close integration following two significant business acquisitions. Specific challenges included the retention of key talent across the organization and maintaining business continuity during the integration. The goal was to develop and execute plans to leverage synergies, optimize the portfolio, and develop the corresponding change management strategy. Special emphasis was placed on the creation of a new culture to integrate the best aspects of both organizations. This required defining the cultural tenets to foster greater personal accountability for performance results and enhance cross-functional collaboration across the merged field force and support functions.

Approach and Deliverables

For both integration projects, WLH led and partnered with internal integration teams to engage in a comprehensive change management effort. This endeavor included clarifying strategic objectives, developing a detailed project plan with multiple work streams, and ensuring coordination and alignment throughout the organization. The various work streams included human capital strategy, account transitions, and stakeholder communications. WLH provided overall project management to monitor milestones, address potential risks and interdependencies, and enable integration activities. WLH also provided dedicated assistance to Sales, Field Force Effectiveness, Veterinary Operations, Human Resources (HR), and Learning and Development (L&D).

To create a unified organizational culture for the merged company, WLH first worked with executive leadership to define core beliefs and values. Then, through a deliberate cascade that started with business unit leaders and their teams, organizational values and priorities were clearly defined. The cascade included an overall field execution readiness strategy which included team jump start meetings where the focus was on addressing customer-facing challenges, business opportunities, and 100-day planning.

In addition, WLH successfully provided the following:

  • Designed and facilitated a 3-day experiential conference for over 150 of the company’s senior leaders

  • Designed and facilitated workshops for leadership teams in each of the company’s business units to assist them with integration and alignment of the new culture

  • Developed an on-boarding process that addressed important human capital needs for the combined organization in collaboration with the HR function and first line leader input

  • Designed and developed a new consulting sales skills model and workshop

  • Evaluated organizational health during the integration and developed data feedback and action planning processes to support cultural integration

  • Implemented a human capital strategy including role profiles and recruiting, training, and talent management plans


With WLH’s support, the client successfully integrated the two companies and translated leadership’s vision for the new organizational culture. A road map for the transformation was developed and implemented to ensure individual accountability and business continuity. The investment in team meetings created significantly higher levels of collaboration among field sales, marketing, and veterinary operations in support of the new culture and business goals. Retaining key talent was a critical concern for the client. WLH was successful in helping the client retain all key talent during the transition while eliminating duplicative responsibilities. Sales growth rates for the company during and immediately following the integration were better than all competitors in the industry. WLH’s success with these critical efforts led to many additional projects to further business improvement, human capital strategy, and business planning within the company.

Revamping a Performance Management Process

Background and Challenge:

The US division of a global pharmaceutical company needed to revamp its performance management process and tools to meet court settlement requirements. WLH worked closely with business and HR leaders to understand the current state and outline the future state expectations.

Approach and Deliverables

After an extensive diagnostic, WLH provided recommendations for improvement to policies, procedures, training, systems, reporting, and efforts to drive cultural change. WLH created and aligned the project team on an execution plan for improvements to performance management policies and procedures.

WLH produced the following deliverables:

  • Redesigned the Performance Management process

  • Created learning objectives for the sales organization on settlement requirements and role, process, and system changes

  • Revised assessment tool to measure demonstration of company values

  • Created a Just-in-Time Toolkit for Sales Managers to access relevant policies and procedures and house all tools and additional resources

  • Developed a cultural change cascade directed toward senior leaders, as well as a communications plan

  • Created a webinar to be used by all employees outlining the Performance Management Process

Sales Leaders Curriculum, Needs Analysis, and Roadmap

Background and Challenge:

After an extensive needs analysis, WLH partnered with L&D and senior leadership to create and deploy a learning and development strategy for its Sales and Marketing Functions. The organization was seeking ways to increase skills, optimize resources, and link its learning curriculum to improve talent development and retention.

Approach and Deliverables

WLH prepared a detailed Skills/Knowledge/Behaviors Matrix to visually depict competencies that were core across functions. The curriculum proposed a sequence of skill levels for high potentials, newly promoted field managers, and experienced managers.

To support the Learning and Development leaders’ ability to execute the curriculum recommendations, WLH evaluated current offerings, explored vendor provided selections, and designed and implemented completely new offerings when necessary.


The result was a competency-based comprehensive training curriculum to enable managers to more effectively develop talent within their teams. The Learning and Development function created a campaign to increase utilization of assets, including on-line and self-development sustainability tools.