People & Leadership

3 steps to build your talent pipeline

Creating a talent pipeline is a long game that takes significant planning backed up by data and analytics. Here's how to do it.

Talent acquisition has changed.

Today’s leading recruiters are using new approaches such as applying marketing strategies to recruitment, social recruiting and candidate relationship management, while delivering great experiences and enhancing their employer brand to attract the best.

Having a talent pipeline means HR teams have their finger on the pulse at all times knowing what talent is lacking, what is needed, who might leave and who might be best internally or externally to fulfil vacant roles.

It means companies can always ensure they have the right talent in the right job.

In fact, companies that define leadership competencies and track turnover of top talent yield significantly greater return on sales compared to companies that don’t.

Creating a talent pipeline is a long game though, that takes significant planning backed up by data and analytics.

Here are three steps to take to build one.

1. Plan your talent capabilities and requirements

First of all, you need to understand what your current talent pool looks like.

Who are your critical employees and what skills do they have?

What will your future business look like?

What kind of talent do you need so that your pipeline doesn’t lag behind your future needs?

Disney did this exercise and found its most pivotal staff were their street sweepers who directed customers to the best spots to watch the parade, helped lost patrons and generally provided visitors with helpful information.

The street sweepers had the greatest impact on customers, so it was important to have a talent pipeline that reflected this.

Apply the ‘what if’ test. What is the positive impact on your business if you keep your best employers?

The rule of thumb is to look at the people who are driving growth, assess what skills they have that make them excel in this role, and apply that to your talent pipeline.

Alongside this, think about where your gaps are in your talent pool, and how you can prepare for succession planning.

What mix of skills do you have, and what areas can be boosted?

This is where many companies fail. Get it right now – and you’ll save yourself in the long run.

2. Attract the best candidates

Employer branding is important. Your brand should reflect your company culture, values and employee experience. For example, is your company innovative, competitive, enable flexible working, or entrepreneurial?

Putting out a job advert is not enough.

Nortel has been known to recruit at rock concerts. Hewlett-Packard and many other technology companies have targeted high school students.

Use tools to engage potential candidates and build your pipeline. Modern HR and people systems can enable recruiters to provide a seamless candidate experience that is essential for attracting them.

While you’re targeting potential candidates, create a database of people you’ve already identified as talent.

They might have applied for a job and didn’t quite match what you wanted at the time, or been recommended by trusted contacts.

Smart companies build up a relationship with prospective employees, contractors or gig workers, and keep them informed about what they’re doing and why this might be attractive to future candidates.

3. Develop and reward your employees once you’ve attracted them to build your internal pool

Implement a development programme, then brand and market it internally.

Train your staff, targeting particular levels and competencies.

Send employees on internal and external training courses, provide them experience in different departments or different job roles, and send them to overseas offices too.

Development programmes should include people management, influencing peers, learning about the business, building control systems, building leadership skills, dealing with challenging conditions, negotiating, framing and solving problems, and managing former peers or supervisors.

Once you have identified and trained your talent, it is important to reward employees in order to enhance engagement.

Internally acknowledging an employee, praise from senior management, opportunities and more responsibility will go a long way to keeping critical staff engaged, loyal and focused on hitting the organisation’s strategic goals.

Constructing a talent pipeline is time intensive and requires a lot of investment.

HR and people teams need to understand their existing talent and future needs with the help of data, but also know what is available on the market.

Getting it right early on is well worth the effort to ensure sustainable talent and ultimate growth of the company. After all, people are a company’s biggest asset.