Using Talent Pools to Develop Future Leaders

by Sharlyn Lauby | Posted | Leadership

Using Talent Pools to Develop Future Leaders

According to Pew Research, roughly 10,000 Boomers are entering retirement age every day. Organizations needs to be prepared for this change in the workplace landscape. Historical knowledge about the organization, processes and procedures will be leaving the business and that must be accounted for in some way.

The first step in developing a method of knowledge transfer is to have people to transfer the knowledge to. That means putting some sort of talent strategy in place to replace workers as they make plans to retire. In some cases, businesses will be able to hire the talent they’re looking for from outside the organization. And depending upon the position, they might welcome bringing in a fresh set of eyes to the company.

But certain roles will have to be developed from within. There are a couple of reasons: 1) the organization cannot seem to find qualified candidates and 2) the amount of internal knowledge needed to assume the role is significant, making promotions or transfers very viable.

Sometimes internal development strategies are tough to create. As business professionals, we understand the importance of succession planning. But there can be differing points of view about identifying and notifying candidates within a succession plan. Luckily, there’s an option that allows us to do both.

The Value of Talent Pools

Talent pools are groups of high-performing, high-potential employees who are being developed to assume greater responsibilities within the organization. Hi-performing employees (HPE) are individuals who are not only engaged, but embrace the corporate culture and perform their current role at an exemplary level. High-potential employees (HiPo) have demonstrated they have competencies the organization values, the ability to obtain the organizational knowledge, and interest to advance within the company.

Talent pools are a great way to think of succession when the organization might be reluctant to name a single individual as a successor. The organization develops a talent “pool” of several individuals. Also, for organizations that are unsure about what future opportunities might look like, but want HPE and HiPo employees ready, talent pools can be a very desirable option. Employees know they have a future with the organization, even if they’re not completely sure what those opportunities will look like.

Talent pools are a good approach when you’re looking to develop multiple skills or numerous people. An organization might have several different types of talent pools based upon their future staffing needs. Examples include emerging leaders, management, and technical specialists.

Creating a Talent Pool

Like formal succession plans, talent pools are created by looking at current and future needs.

STEP ONE (Review Strategy): Organizations should review their strategic plan and identify the positions that are critical for long-term success. Note we’re talking about positions, not competencies. Think in terms of 3-5 year plans.

STEP TWO (Identify Competencies): Then, using the list of positions identified in step one, pinpoint the competencies that will be in demand. This will show where positions and competencies overlap. In addition, identify the competencies currently within the company.

STEP THREE (Gap Analysis): Conduct a gap analysis to determine those areas that have learning and development opportunities in place and where competencies need to be developed.

STEP FOUR (Employees): Until this point, individual employees haven’t been a part of the exercise. Companies need to understand what they have and need, then evaluate current employees. Managers can talk with employees about their future career plans and see if they would like to be a part of a talent pool.

Maintaining a Talent Pool

The work doesn’t end once a talent pool has been created. On some level, the work has just begun. Employees who are part of a talent pool should have personal development plans in place. This allows them to maintain their current skills at a high level and develop new skills that will help them in the future. A schedule should be put in place to regularly review and revise an employee’s development plan.

In addition, the company needs to regularly evaluate their talent pool criteria. This includes future staffing needs, current and future competencies, as well as the employee composition of the talent pool. Business dynamics are changing constantly and the talent pool needs to keep current with the workplace.

If businesses want to be successful long-term, they not only need capable employees today but in the future. While some staffing needs can be solved with recruiting talent from the outside, it only makes good business sense to invest in current hi-potential and hi-performing employees. Talent pools offer the flexibility to manage talent with the changes and growth of the business.

State of Succession Planning

Are you doing enough to identify and develop talent to build bench strength?


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State of Succession Planning

Are you doing enough to identify and develop talent to build bench strength?


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