Talent Planning: How Deep is Your Bench?

June 22, 2016

Whether you are running a small business or a business unit of a corporation, the odds are that you have been caught unprepared when a key employee moves on. The impact on your team’s productivity and your financial results are usually significant. The best antidote to this is to spend more time talent planning to develop a deeper bench of future replacements.

Here are some go-to talent planning solutions for you to consider:

Create a functional organizational chart: Talent planning starts here. Create an organizational chart with all current positions (not names). Write out the detailed duties and responsibilities of each role, including yourself. Then draw in new positions that you know you will need in the future, and look for duties in the incumbent’s boxes that can be reassigned. Hire for your new positions in advance of a budget or emergency need. This is a key exercise that the best talent planners create and maintain.

Create developmental roles: Highly successful talent planning companies form a deeper bench by creating junior understudy positions for talented, less experienced employees. If you have a couple of these positions, you will always have a future source of internal candidates and you can personally shape their development with stretch assignments.

Force rank your team: If you have multiple people on your team that have the same position, force rank them for current performance and potential. The quarterly ranking should mirror a bell shaped curve. Work on the bottom of the list to either improve their performance or to give you a list of who needs to be promoted to a new career outside of your business. This exercise in talent planning will ensure that you have stronger people to take the next step when you need them.

Embrace assessments: Over the last ten years, behavioral and motivation assessments have become the standard. For example, if you have a few “perfect” employees, you should have these people take the assessments, which can become your template for future hires. Then, when you are forced to hire a new person, the pre-hire assessment will help you identify the next superstar.

Recruit consistently: Enlightened leaders maintain a rhythmic recruiting tempo. They are always looking for talent for the future and they have a current file of resumes of potential future employees. Learn how to find talent on LinkedIn, Indeed, and other talent-rich groups.

Develop a relationship with an industry recruiter: Great talent planners have at least two industry recruiters on their speed dial. The best way to keep this relationship fresh is to help them with their searches. If you lend them a hand, they will be much more receptive to coming to your aid or even better, bring future stars for your resume file.

Assign recruiting to a teammate: Someone on your team should be accountable for the steady flow of future hires. For most small businesses, this is a part-time role for one of your people.

Offer finder’s fees: The best future employees can be sourced from your best current employees. Most of them will know someone personally and can be your ambassador. Create a finder’s fee for the successful hiring of one of their recommendations.

Network at industry functions: A great source of future teammates is at industry functions. You can easily pick out the best and brightest at these events and it is easy to rationalize your attendance if you come back with one name for the future.

You have healthcare insurance, business liability insurance, insurance umbrellas, etc. However, most businesses don’t view talent planning as organizational insurance. Identifying and developing talented future employees is critical to your business health. Don’t wait until there is a problem. Be ready and avoid the high costs of replacing and training.

Strongly consider hiring a business coach like me (shameless plug) to help you plan for your organizational health.

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