There is no doubt that planning for future business needs has become more complex. Not only are we navigating unprecedented levels of change and innovation, but also the very nature of our workforce is being redefined. Business leaders openly recognise that despite the tremendous challenges they face in leading for today, they need to look ahead and focus on building organisations that are well positioned to navigate a more complex global marketplace of the future. For many CEOs and leaders, the greatest challenge lies in determining how best to leverage the current capability of their workforce while defining future talent requirements.

PWC’s 2015 report ‘The Talent Challenge: Adapting To Growth’ notes that it is the combination of skills shortages and emerging megatrends (technological development, demographic change and urbanisation) that are keeping CEOs awake at night. 63% of business leaders cite the availability of skills as a key concern and 41% believe they lack the right capability in their business today to cope with future requirements. As a result, 93% recognise the need to change their strategy for attracting and retaining talent, but worryingly, 61% haven’t yet taken the first step to do so. While most are only too aware that something needs to change, it is apparent that many don’t know what that is or how best to go about it.

The building and mapping of talent pipelines is critical to aligning your business strategy with your people strategy. Not only can they provide you with a clear view of where your current capability and potential lies within your business, but they will also very quickly provide you with a snapshot of where your emerging gaps are, or are most likely to arise.

Managing your talent pipeline is a broader and more integrated process than simply planning for successors to key positions. As with all successful business initiatives, it starts with a clear strategy that is well communicated; aligned with business needs and corporate values; and embraced at all levels of the organisation. If people know what the key business initiatives are in the immediate short-term future they are more likely to proactively self nominate and motivate themselves towards the goal.

Underpinning this is robust technology that supports both internal and external development and appointment processes. These tools should support not only the hiring process, but also enable the planning and implementation of the employee talent agenda at all levels of the business.

6 Considerations for building your talent pipeline for the future marketplace:

  1. Business clarity: internally & externally
  2. Assessment: In order to effectively align your business and people strategies, you firstly need to have a clear view of:
    • Linchpin Roles: Identify the critical roles that are imperative to your business success. Identify if they are likely to remain key roles and what new roles are likely to emerge.
    • Current capability, potential and ambition of the people in your business: Know what tools you need to have to support capability assessments, what conversations need to be had, and who is best to lead them.
  3. Development of internal talent: Design a range of talent development options that target specific levels and competencies. Give consideration to training (internal and external); mentoring programs; job rotations; cross-functional project experiences; and global or regional assignments.
  4. Map the external market: Identify who are the exceptional performers, thought leaders, disruptors, and industry leaders, in the market place. Understand what it is that sees them regarded as such and if they are a potential fit for your organisation.
  5. Make it easy: Ensure that your systems, processes and communication supports attraction and retention of high-performing talent. Too often, organisations fail to capitalise on their talent opportunities due to long-winded, complex and confusing processes.
  6. Reward: Ensure your top performers are recognised and rewarded as such. This will require more than just financial reward: Expose them to senior management or your board and ensure that they are profiled in a genuine manner, both within the organisation and to their industry and peers.