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5 tips for Building a Top Talent Pipeline

5 tips for Building a Top Talent Pipeline

by September 10, 2014

Being able to find, retain and develop talent has never been more important for businesses. A lack of specialist skills, the soaring costs of hiring talented people externally and the so-called ‘war for talent’ means that businesses are well-advised to re-think their talent strategies and look within.

Time to evolve

Businesses must evolve and become more self-sufficient in ‘growing their own talent’. The benefits of doing so are potentially huge:

  • Big cost-savings on recruitment and on boarding
  • Ready-made replacements when key managers move on
  • Hiring people in key positions that are already familiar with the culture and ways of working.

Even the largest of organizations will struggle to fill all of its senior employee vacancies internally. But with the right processes in place, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to fill a far higher proportion with internal candidates.

So what steps should you take to start to build your own internal talent pipelines?

Be proactive

You need to get proactive when it comes to talent planning. Don’t wait for a key senior manager to leave before thinking about possible successors. Whatever else you do as part of a strategy, you really want to have a talent system or database in place that underpins everything. This would feature a list of skills-matched, suitable internal candidates to put forward for a particular role.

Define your talent

Going one step back, it’s so important to know who your talent is. So many companies still admit to having no such records.

Before you do anything else, make sure you’ve defined what talent ‘looks like’ in your organization so you can track them. Do this by:

  • Thinking about (and listing) what capabilities your talent should have, what behaviours they must display and what values they embody
  • Holding regular talent forums where your HR teams identify key talent, consider possible internal candidates for current vacancies and flag up retention risks.

Find your next gen stars

Once you’ve defined your talent, you’ll want to identify possible future leaders and people in specialist positions as you may want to develop these people differently. These people could be at any level of the business. Regular talent forums are also useful here, enabling you to:

  • Agree development opportunities for your different talent
  • Discuss succession plans for critical roles
  • Identify talent gaps; specialist areas or departments where you don’t have the quality or quantity of talented people coming through.

Tailor development programmes

Use a 360 degree feedback tool to identifying key development needs – at either an individual or group level. As well as highlighting gaps in behaviours and capabilities among your talent, you can also use these insights to shape the development programmes you offer.

And make sure your development planning isn’t too top heavy! Companies often fail to offer appropriate development opportunities at different (usually more junior) levels. As a consequence, you could lose sight of more junior talent, fail to develop them properly and they leave.

Address this by tailoring a development programme for such groups, which will improve their current performance while also better preparing them for senior management positions.

Use mentors

Mentoring can be a great way of ensuring business know-how – both practical and theoretical – is passed on to the next generation, helping talent to reach their full potential. It can also be an equally positive experience for the mentor, aiding their own development as managers.

Putting these steps in place will mean your organization will have stronger talent pipelines and be in far better shape to ‘look within’ when it comes to recruiting for key roles.

Do you have tips for not listed here? Tell me about it in the comment section below…

About The Author
Ben Egan
Ben Egan is a consultant specialising in communications strategies at UK-based HR consultancy and bespoke technology firm ETS. ETS are experts in employee engagement, development and performance appraisal working with major global businesses including PepsiCo, Tesco and Vodafone.

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