Creating a talent pipeline is one of the most important actions a business can take to safeguard its future. An effective talent pipeline programme ensures business continuity and contributes to higher morale in the organisation. At the same time, it can reduce both costs and risks associated with recruitment.
But how do you get it right?
What is a talent pipeline?
When an important or influential individual moves on, it can leave your organisation in a difficult position. It can be particularly problematic if someone in a senior position departs and there’s a leadership vacuum or whole teams have to adapt to a new leader’s ways of working.
Creating a talent pipeline can avoid such scenarios. It’s a strategic approach used to pinpoint, develop and retain a number of highly competent people, earmarking them for senior positions. Since it’s designed to prepare individuals for jobs at the top, it often includes succession management.
Those employees or candidates identified for a talent pipeline might not currently possess all the skills or expertise required for senior roles. However, they will have a high degree of potential. Companies then develop these people and give them exposure to greater levels of responsibility, in the hope that they’ll fulfil that potential and become future leaders.
Why is it important to have a quality talent pipeline?
It goes without saying that senior people in your organisation will have an enormous influence on the prospects of your company. As well as making vital decisions, they can shape the culture and impact morale throughout the whole business. So these people need to be chosen extremely carefully.
That’s one of the benefits of talent pipeline planning: you can both test individuals’ suitability for leadership roles and hone their skills in readiness for steps up the ladder.
But we know that business can be unpredictable, particularly when it comes to personnel. If an integral employee moves on, how do you replace them so that everyday operations aren’t majorly disrupted by their departure?
This is where your talent pipeline comes into play. You can’t always have total control over when a high-potential employee makes the step up. But at least if you’ve been preparing them for senior positions, they’ll be somewhat ready. And by filling the vacancy internally, hopefully you can minimise the settling-in period, be more sure of a good fit with your culture and carry on – more or less – with business as usual.
Top tips to build a quality talent pipeline
So the people in your talent pipeline can have a huge impact on both the present and future of your business, making it imperative that you design your pipeline right.
But how do you build a talent pipeline that will work the way it should?
Identify your company’s needs and goals
It’s vital that your talent pipeline strategy matches your overarching business objectives. You need your next generation of leaders to drive your company in the desired direction.
These people must have the right set of skills and experience to make major contributions to the realisation of your objectives. If they don’t, they’ll fall short of expectations and, more importantly, you won’t achieve those objectives.
Of course, your next leaders should also satisfy wider business needs. Perhaps there are skills or knowledge gaps that they can help fill. Developing people in certain areas now will mean they possess the right skills when you call upon them to lead in the future.
So when you’re developing a talent pipeline, you should always have your organisation’s needs and goals firmly in mind.
Develop a sourcing strategy
Once you’ve figured out where your talent needs lie, you can establish the ideal candidate persona. What educational background should they have? Which sector will they come from? And what skills should they already possess?
At this stage, it’s important to remember the importance of building a diverse talent pipeline. The many benefits of diverse leadership teams include different perspectives, a mixture of skills and a greater understanding of consumers.
Equipped with an outline of who you need, it’s time to set about finding them. Networking events can be a rich source of new talent, while professional executive search services can prove invaluable in the process.
Of course, you might find that some existing employees have the potential you need. It’s always a good idea to analyse your current talent pool.
Nurture your candidates
Once you have the right people in your pipeline, you need to make them feel valued and maintain positive relationships with them. It’s vital that you foster in them a sense of belonging and loyalty to your business.
Otherwise, you might lose these high-potential individuals – and the money and time you’ve spent on upskilling them. You could even lose them to a competitor, who would then get the benefit of the skills and expertise you helped to build up.
To minimise the chances of this happening, you should detail clear plans for their development, right from the moment you identify their potential. Then you should check in with them regularly, providing opportunities for development, upskilling and progression. These might include networking events, special projects and access to senior executives. You might consider assigning a senior-level mentor to guide them on their way, or offering them support from an experienced executive coach.
It’s also wise to expose your high-potential people to decisions that matter. Not only will this give them valuable experience in making vital calls, but it’ll also stress your trust in them.
Focus on training
Leaders require a great many skills. These include the ability to motivate people, make tough decisions, communicate effectively, think strategically and build relationships.
As well as enhancing capabilities, training also serves to make your leaders of the future feel more confident in their abilities. Plus, it reassures them their development is on track and you continue to value them.
Training can also make sure your high-potential people are up to date with the latest industry trends, technology and best practice. Then, when these top talents step up into executive roles, you’ll know your company is being led by people who are looking firmly forward and value continuous improvement.
If they’re used to learning new skills all the time, they’ll also be able to adapt to shifting business landscapes and new developments. We all know that surprises are never far away in the business world.
Training also introduces people to novel ideas and approaches. It’s one way that you can encourage your next leaders to be more innovative, injecting some creativity into your talent pipeline.
How can agp help you improve your talent pipeline?
If you’re exploring the idea of building a talent pipeline, you can rely upon our expertise, as well as our extensive network of contacts.
We can help you create a talent pipeline that will feed into a wider talent acquisition and mapping strategy. By listening intently and asking plenty of questions, we’ll come to understand the overarching goals of your business – and how the right people can help you realise them.
Then we’ll carry out detailed market and competitor analysis, to reveal the types of people who might meet your requirements. Once we’ve identified suitable candidates, we’ll approach them with details of the position. If they’re interested, they’ll begin the recruitment process, giving you the chance to put them through their paces and see who emerges as the best candidate.
After you’ve offered the position to your chosen candidate, we can run in-depth executive referencing to make sure they have what it takes. And to give them more of what it takes, we also offer executive leadership coaching. This is an extremely effective way to discover any skills or knowledge gaps – and set about filling them.
Building a high-quality, dependable talent pipeline is no easy task. It takes time, effort and financial commitment.
But if managed correctly, this pipeline is where your business’ future leaders will come from. And when you think about a talent pipeline in these terms, it becomes much clearer why you should prioritise yours.