HR Management & Compliance

Jump into the Talent Pool

A common problem among HR managers and recruiters involves critical vacancies. The solution? Talent pools.

By Joanne Wells, Manager, Learning Center of Excellence, Halogen Software

A recent leadership survey conducted by University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School found that, amid a significant demand for high-potential talent, 65% of talent management professionals were less than satisfied with their organization’s ability to prepare and fill mission-critical roles.

How to Create a Succession Planning Strategy

Leaders looking to future-proof their organizations are using an integrated approach, incorporating succession planning at multiple career levels into the overall talent management strategy. Instead of grooming one or two candidate for specific roles, leaders are identifying groups of high-potential employees (HiPos) earlier in their careers and using talent pools to develop them to take on a variety of critical roles.

The key to creating a future-proof succession plan is to use a data-driven process aligned with organizational strategy and to integrate it into the full cycle of talent management.

Begin with the End in Mind

Rather than attempting to replace the current leadership by duplicating it, savvy leaders begin by identifying the critical knowledge, skills, abilities, and experience that the organization will need to have in place to lead and implement its strategy in the future.

Since specific future needs can change over time, the talent pool approach brings the advantage of flexibility by providing a broader diversity of talent earlier in the careers HiPos who can be developed to meet needs as they emerge. This exercise is best treated as ongoing, with regular discussions to ensure alignment of roles and competencies with organizational strategies and needs.

Once the roles and competencies needed are identified, learning professionals can identify or create optimal experiences and tools to help candidates develop them. Ideally, this will be a mix of developmental assignments, lateral and promotional moves, training, and mentoring.

Populate The Pools

Talent pools are best filled as part of the regular, ongoing cycle of talent management. During the employee performance review process, evaluate all employees on the basis of their current performance level, potential for the future, readiness for a move, and retention risk.

Assess employees for the competencies identified during the first step and by using a variety of methods, including performance reviews, 360-degree reviews, interviews, and assessments. This will ensure an objective, well-rounded approach aligned with strategy that will help avoid subjectivity or bias.

Conducting a robust performance review process across the organization and collecting results can yield many advantages beyond the scope of this article, but for our purposes, these enable the identification of high performers, HiPos, and those who exemplify the vision, culture, and values of the organization and can be considered for talent pools.

A 2013 white paper by Aon consultants recommends assessing a candidate’s potential along specific dimensions, such as cognitive, personality, learning, motivation, leadership, performance, and cultural fit.

Organizations may choose to have a single talent pool of all HiPos for advancement into leadership roles or multiple pools for different critical career tracks, depending on the size and needs of the organization. Talent pools are best when kept fluid, with regular monitoring and reassessments of candidates to track progress and allow for new entrants to—as well as exits from—the pool.

Tomorrow we’ll look at how to develop and use talent pools.