12 Steps to Building an Effective Talent Pipeline

By Niraj Kaushik - Originally posted on people matters

How should organizations plan and decide on a talent pipeline? What does an effective talent pipeline structure look like?

Organizations need to define, attract, and develop the right mix of critical talent to support and grow their businesses. To ensure a flow of the right talent for these roles over time, the best practice is for organizations to build critical-talent pipelines.

Organizations can build critical-talent pipelines by:

  • Assessing internal and external talent pools
  • Determining the gaps between available and needed talent
  • Identifying the best strategies for developing and acquiring the talent to fill those gaps
  • Executing, monitoring, and refining pipeline strategies

What kind of tools or methods are being adopted by organizations in order to standardize and scale the succession management process?

Although the output of all work within an organization is important, certain roles are key to operations and directly drive business goals and results. Simultaneously, the talent to perform those roles may be scarce. Companies can reduce their risk and ensure the availability of top talent to fill those roles by building critical-talent pipelines.

Organizations are looking at accurate, accessible intelligence and data on critical talent to generate insights. Analytics capabilities must be timely and intuitive and not require separate processes. A unified approach to talent data—real intelligence on a company’s most valuable asset—should underpin the process. Building and maintaining critical talent pipelines supported by a talent pool database of talent profiles is an integral part of a broad talent management strategy designed to foster organizational success.

Oracle has a 12-step methodology to build strong talent pipelines.

  • Determine Current and Future Needs - The identification and analysis of critical roles is the first step before beginning to build a pool of critical talent.
  • Assess the Talent Inventory - Characterize the necessary skills and competencies for success in those roles.
  • Determine the Mix for Filling Gaps - Factors for determining the mix typically include the state of the labor market, the strength of the internal development infrastructure (programs and resources), and the cultural importance of hiring from within for critical roles.
  • Define the Pool of Internal Candidates - A valuable step in developing internal candidates for critical positions is to assign them to a specific talent pool.
  • Assess and Develop the Pool
  • Track Development Progress
  • Track Promotion and Turnover Rates - Lower-than-expected promotion rates may indicate that development programs need to be revisited and refined. Similarly, higher-than-expected turnover rates should drive changes in how the organization approaches building pipelines for critical positions.
  • Define the Pool of Existing External Candidates - Bearing in mind needed skills, competencies, and talent profiles, one can mine information on past candidates in the organization’s candidate database to identify matches and assess the potential of external hires to fill critical roles.
  • Define and Execute Campaigns to Engage Candidates - Identify conferences, industry associations, and social networks that match the critical role profile. Also work with hiring managers and employees for relationship-building.
  • Assess and Refine Current Sourcing Strategies - Analyze sources that have been successful in the past to develop a targeted sourcing strategy for external candidates based on ideal-candidate profiles, needs, and historical trends
  • Implement and Monitor Sourcing Strategies - Seek out talent that can fill critical roles, and capture information about those people’s knowledge, skills, and experience in addition to contact information for ongoing communications
  • Track the Overall Size and Quality of Internal and External Pools - Use the talent pool database to track internal critical role candidates as well as external candidates.

What are the recent trends in technology for building a talent pipeline and succession plan?

As new technologies redefine the workplace—including cloud, social, mobile, big data and analytics—working with technology can deliver the critical applications and know-how to empower modern business and build talent pipelines.

Access to data and analytics, i.e, talent intelligence and embedded social and mobile capabilities in technology solutions can help organizations to deliver even better service to the workforce and retain critical talent. Findings from the Taleo Research Talent Mobility Survey show talent mobility technology excellence correlates to greater business impact on multiple metrics including quality of leadership pipeline (76 percent), employee engagement rates (76 percent), and ability to drive change and business growth (75 percent). Notably, three-quarters (76 percent) of companies with excellent talent mobility technology report having a culture that supports sharing of talent across the company versus 55 percent of all companies.

The industry's broadest cloud-based talent management platform, Oracle Taleo Cloud Service collects relevant information throughout the employee's entire lifecycle, empowering HR, managers, and employees to leverage the cloud to develop succession plans and critical talent pipelines.

How do you help organizations build a strong talent pipeline?

Building a leadership pipeline and focusing on leadership development is no longer confined to succession planning, nor should it be restricted to C-level executives. Today’s flatter, global organizations need effective leaders at each level of the organization.

Oracle’s Human Capital Management Solutions have the technical expertise to help organizations build strong talent pipelines.

Oracle’s Talent Review and Succession Planning helps Organizations in all the 12 steps described above with its tools and automating the above steps.

Oracle Talent Review and Succession Management enables executives and HR professionals to assess talent, evaluate macro-organizational trends, identify and mitigate talent risk, develop a leadership pipeline, and review individual talent details such as potential and risk of loss. Additionally, Leadership Pipeline plans and talent pools can be created and viewed from within the context of the talent review dashboard.

The talent review dashboard uses an interactive matrix that allows you to look at both large scale trends in the organization, as well as review individual talent details for a team or set of teams. Using the performance to potential matrix, they get a complete picture of your talent landscape so they can make the best decisions for their organization. Managers also have access to key succession data via a simple user experience, allowing them to quickly see where they might need to take further action.

Talent Review and Succession Management offers flexibility so Organizations can create succession plans for Leadership the way they need them for their organization. While they may have very specific individuals they want to create incumbent-based plans for, they may also need the flexibility to create job or position-based plans which they can further refine based on job grade, family, profile, business unit, or department. This refinement allows you to create plans that are tied to a specific box on an organization chart or to multiple boxes.

The succession overview allows Organizations to quickly visualize the strength of their Leadership Pipelines. The pipeline strength gauge displays the number of candidates available in each readiness category. This helps you to quickly identify pipelines that are at risk with a small number of candidates or those with too few candidates who are ready now so they can take action on those plans. The candidate readiness graph categorizes the succession candidates according to their readiness status and allows Organization to drill into different readiness categories.

Using the powerful compare feature, Organizations can search for succession plan and talent pool candidates based on skills and experiences. By comparing employees, they are able to cast the net wider and deeper within the organization to ensure robust Leadership Pipeline and talent pools.

At what all levels should an organization have a talent pipeline? Is it only at the top level or even at the mid or bottom level? If so, what is the difference in planning?

Companies in all industries have a set of critical roles: jobs that must be performed— and performed well—for the companies to succeed. These positions are not confined to leaders and executives. Critical positions may lie at the core of conducting everyday business or be central to long-term new product strategy. Companies that do not have the right people in critical jobs forfeit revenue growth, innovate more slowly, and/or lose competitive advantage because they are unable to adapt to market dynamics.

Who should be the owner of a succession plan in an organization – the CEO or the HR?

Business Continuity is one of the important factors for sound working of any Organization. Business continuity is ensured by having robust leadership pipeline and good succession plan for critical roles or persons.

Hence, Succession management — the practice of carefully identifying and selecting talent to succeed incumbents in a company’s critical roles — is receiving renewed focus, especially at publicly traded companies. Investors want to know how the organization will change direction when turnover occurs, and institutional investors need to assess the thoroughness of succession management as a criterion for investment decisions.

Hence the primary responsibility for succession management should rest with the CEO with the assistance of Human Resources.

Reasons for the ownership of succession planning with CEO as follows :

  • Need to critically assess talent-related business risks, regardless of where they may be in the organization.
  • Align Organization objectives with role or person objectives to create high shareholder value.
  • Identify critical roles which makes or breaks the organizations in the short or long run.
  • Identify and nurture the critical talents by keeping the talent pipeline robust.

Above decisions cannot be taken easily by Human Resources as these involve business acumen and other related domain knowledge which often CHRO may not have. But Human Resources often plays a facilitative role in this process as well as in identifying critical roles that should be included.

Given the economic, Market and potential Operational implications of unplanned departures and the risks associated with having to bring in external talent, CEO’s need to make succession management one of their most critical duties.

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Niraj Kaushik is the Vice President, Applications, Oracle India.

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