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Talent planning: creating future leaders

David Pardey

How to build an effective talent plan

At ILM we believe in the value of talent planning. Our research, The leadership and management talent pipeline, has highlighted exactly how far a plan contributes to business success. 

It shows clearly that organisations with a talent plan are less likely to need to recruit outside the organisation. This cuts costs and reduces risk, because people you promote are both known to you (you know exactly what they are capable of) and know your business. Any business that plans a strong supply of developed leaders and managers has taken an important step to assuring its own growth and effective performance.

What is a talent plan?

It simply means that people are selected for current roles, offered development opportunities and encouraged to set themselves career goals based on what the organisation is going to be like in the future, not simply what it is today. Of course, nothing is certain, but an organisation that looks to the future is far more likely to be able to take advantage of opportunities.

What does a good talent plan look like?

Here are our ten steps to successful talent management:

  • Start from your strategy – where are you going and how do you intend to get there? You need to have some idea of your organisation’s future if you want to plan for it.
  • What will the organisation look like if it is to deliver this strategy and achieve your goals? Remember, if you do what you have always done you’ll get what you’ve always got. The organisation’s structure should follow its strategy.
  • What people will the organisation need to deliver this strategy? This doesn’t just mean knowledge and skills – what kind of people will you need?
  •  How well does your current employee profile match the required profile? What talent gaps can you identify? From this you can start to work out how to develop people to fill these gaps, and which gaps you will have to fill from outside.
  •  Look at the age profile of your workforce. Invite people to discuss their future plans, especially those nearing retirement age. Some may want to continue full-time, others may want to work part-time, and others may want to retire. Don’t make assumptions; equally, be open to flexible ways of working so that you can hold onto experience whilst bringing on new talent.
  • Assess people for their potential and not just for their current performance. Look at employees’ strengths and weaknesses, and consider what kind of role they are best suited for.
  •  Encourage employees to be open about their personal career goals. Be open with them about your perceptions of their strengths and weaknesses and how this matches their goals, so that they have realistic insights into what is possible.
  •  Look at your recruitment strategy to recruit not just for today’s vacancy but for future possible vacancies, to create a pool of people with potential for the future.
  • Discuss possible development activities – training, opportunities to gain new experience, secondments or work shadowing, etc – with people to help prepare them for possible future roles. Remember – talent plans make no promises, but do offer opportunities.
  •  Keep your plans under constant review. The objective of talent planning is to have the kind of people you will need to deliver your strategy – if this changes, so will the people you will need.

Talent management isn’t only about finding the future leaders of the organisation. It’s about making sure that people at all levels with the potential to move up through the organisation are identified, and offered opportunities to gain the knowledge, skills and experience they’ll need to take on new opportunities when they become available.

    Comments

  • John Mckelvie

    David Pardey's commentary is always insightful and practical. I look forward to seeing more.

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