Headcount Planning

3 reasons your company should adopt a bottom-up approach to planning

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by ChartHop Team

November 20th, 2020

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The ChartHop Team

3 reasons your company should adopt a bottom-up approach to planning

Our world isn’t static. The same goes for our industries and economies. Their ever-changing nature requires that we adapt in order to keep up. But companies—and their leadership—encounter challenges when they cling to habits and processes that no longer fit the way the world works.

Planning is a perfect example. Leadership has long favored top-down approaches to determine budget, staffing, and org structure, but these approaches often result in inaccurate forecasting and poor employee engagement.

The rationale previously for top-down might’ve been that gathering managers’ input took too long. However, that no longer carries weight in the face of emerging technology and tools. Now, this level of collaboration is easier than ever.

There’s immense value in inviting managers to help find solutions. For example, manager involvement in creating diversity and inclusion strategies gives leadership context for which actions will work best for their unique workforce. And a bottom-up approach to identifying training needs helps leadership design training that is impactful and effective.

Because it involves managers from the start, adopting a bottom-up approach to planning can similarly benefit your company. With the right tools and insight, they can create a data-driven plan that not only takes into consideration the unique needs of their team but also drives support and buy-in for overall company goals.


1. You get an accurate picture of your teams and what they need.

As companies scale, leadership may find it tricky to keep an eye on growing departments and teams. And with recent shifts to remote or hybrid work environments, figuring out who reports to whom and which employees belong to which teams can be frustratingly difficult.

Managers, however, know the ins and outs of their departments and teams. And with tools like ChartHop - which automatically spins your people data into a visually rich org chart - managers and senior leadership can easily get aligned on the reporting structure of their company. Leadership can even drill into employee profiles to better understand an individual employee’s role, responsibilities, and place within their team.

ChartHop org chart to profile

ChartHop's org chart takes you directly to employee's profile pages. Check out ChartHop's org chart capabilities.

But managers offer more than their knowledge of their team’s makeup. Their level of insight also makes them uniquely qualified to develop their team or department plan:

  • Frontline managers directly supervise around 80% of the total workforce.
  • Managers are central to executing their company’s business’ strategy.
  • Managers inform senior leadership on what’s going on in the day-to-day of their company.

A manager’s insights make them uniquely poised to offer innovative and growth-minded solutions that support their entire company.


Companies that involve more than just senior leadership in strategy and planning see better results than companies that entrust strategy to a centralized group. That’s because a traditional top-down approach often reflects senior leadership’s limited understanding of what teams or departments need. This kind of approach can lead to unrealistic planning goals, like a low budget or inaccurate head count, that can end up putting a strain on teams and their resources.

Rather than juggle or merge a dozen different spreadsheets, take advantage of tools like ChartHop that offer seamless integrations with your people systems, bringing your hiring, HR management, and payroll and benefits information into a single platform. Let ChartHop act as your single source of truth so you can be confident that your managers are making decisions with up-to-date information.

ChartHop integrations to HRIS or Payroll systems

ChartHop integrates data from your HR tech stack - all into one platform. Learn more about ChartHop integrations.

Involving managers invites diverse perspectives and creativity, helping senior leadership avoid a “one size fits all” approach when planning for teams with varying needs and structures. They’ll also have the most insight into how to turn strategy into action.


2. Your managers feel empowered to take control of their department plan.

Managers play an essential part in the execution (and buy-in) of company strategy, initiatives, and vision. After all, they’re the ones interacting with employees on a daily basis. They understand how to interact with their teams in a way that garners support for senior leadership.

Now imagine how much more invested managers would be if they were given the opportunity to help create that strategy.


Managers grow when presented with new and exciting challenges. Inviting them to be a part of the planning process engages them as strategic business partners and empowers them to have an active role in growing their departments or teams. As a result, they better understand their company’s strategy and feel ownership.

A Bain & Company survey found that 79% of managers agreed with the notion that leaders must trust and empower their people, and that’s exactly what a bottom-up approach to planning does: it increases manager morale and engagement. Managers feel their input is valued when they are given more agency in making important decisions.

Think of managers as your go-between: They have a wealth of insight from their teams, and they can marry that insight with the needs and goals of the company, as communicated by senior leadership.


ChartHop gives managers the ability to plan for an any-case scenario. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that plans can change overnight. With a flexible and intuitive design, ChartHop enables managers to spin up quick alternatives to plans with scenario-based planning. Managers can create cost-saving scenarios or two different scenarios that take into account changes in head count. Having the ability to explore and share various options with leadership allows your managers—and your company—to better prepare for whatever changes may come your way.

scenario sharing

Let’s say your company plans to release a new product in the upcoming year. Hitting that deadline is a huge priority for financial reasons but also for meeting customer expectations and staying competitive in the marketplace.

With a bottom-up approach, your managers can determine what additional hires, like software developers, quality assurance (QA) engineers, and UX/UI designers, are needed to to have the product ready by the release or go-to-market deadlines.

Tools like ChartHop, can help managers make these decisions with necessary context, by easily identifying ratios or employees needed between different teams. This helps companies avoid a common pitfall of top-down planning: understaffing, which would push out product releases or compromise the quality of the release.

Managers can also prevent the opposite problem - overstaffing. Often, senior leadership can propose hiring plans that overshoot a team’s needs and workflows. This can run up unnecessary costs for the company, and in an uncertain environment can lead to layoffs. Avoiding overstaffing can have large implications for a business’ bottom line.

ChartHop Compensation Reviews Approval Process

Streamline approvals for proposed changes.

ChartHop makes it easy for managers to visualize their budget allocation by providing necessary context. They can easily propose promotions, plan for employee departures, and restructure their team within the platform and then track the impact of their decisions through reporting. This allows them to better understand how their decisions impact important KPIs.

But the best part? With ChartHop, planning is no longer siloed. Managers can effortlessly align (and share) their plan with finance, human resources, and other functional leaders in the company.


3. Your managers can make informed decisions with data-driven insights and reporting.

The truth is, data can easily overwhelm. When there are multiple spreadsheets in play, it can be difficult to trace where numbers are coming from. And without that proper context, managers may find it difficult to take action.

Companies need actionable data. It drives decision-making and allows leadership and management to make choices that have real, lasting impact. Luckily, when it comes to planning, advances in technology now make it easier than ever to gain the insights needed to make the right staffing and budget decisions.

ChartHop Reporting People Analytics

A sample of ChartHop's robust reporting capabilities.

Using ChartHop’s prebuilt reports and visualizations (or reports your managers create themselves), managers can quickly view historical data, such as compensation changes, tenure, and performance reviews, when doing comp planning. Managers can also take advantage of skills mapping, making it easier to identify gaps and needs they can address with new hires.

For companies committed to diversity and inclusions efforts, ChartHop’s [DEI tools](/platform/dei/ help managers visualize their team’s current makeup by gender, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, and more. These visualizations make it easier for managers to identify gaps and opportunities in hiring, pay equity, and promotions. And taking advantage of the historical data, both leadership and managers can track diversity and inclusion efforts over time. It’s a simple but effective way to hold your company accountable to employees and candidates.

Stay flexible and focused with bottom-up planning

While leadership fixes their eyes on the long-term horizon, managers can help them stay connected to the now. As our world, industries, and economies continue to change, companies need to engage their managers as strategic business partners. Doing so helps companies stay flexible because their managers are better able to anticipate and understand how small changes will have a big impact, and help their company plan accordingly.

Request a demo for ChartHop, and see for yourself how a bottom-up approach to planning can empower your managers to make your strategy—and your company—a success.


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Written by ChartHop Team

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