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How to Build a Talent Pool To Support Your Succession Planning


Finding the right talent to fill business critical roles is becoming more difficult across all industries as unemployment rates hit record lows. To meet future skills needs, organizations are focusing on developing their internal talent through succession planning.

One way to achieve this is to create an organizational talent pool which consists of your current employees with the potential to step into future roles.

Talent pools complement succession planning strategies because:

  • They provide much needed flexibility in fast moving industries.
  • They allow companies to develop talent in areas that match critical company competencies and cultural values.

To evaluate the capabilities of your existing talent, you’ll need to define an ideal set of behaviors and traits for your critical roles – the skills and attributes needed to carry out a job successfully. This can be facilitated through the development of a competency framework which outlines the skills needed to meet the objectives of each role.

Once your talent pool is identified, the competencies of individuals can be rated based on what your organization requires for future positions. Formal training, career pathing and mentoring programs are all vital to the development planning of your talent pool and enable motivated employees to enhance their skill-sets. In this way, organizations can improve employee engagement and loyalty and ensure that talent is in place to fill critical future skills gaps.

Mercer’s 2018 Global Talent Trends study also highlights the need for businesses to become ‘smart platforms’ in order to match skills with work demand and ‘maximize human creativity and ambition’. 

Related: Understanding The Difference: Career Pathing vs Succession Planning

That requires the provision of career development opportunities and effective succession planning.

Creating an organizational talent pool

Once your framework is agreed and your competencies identified, you can begin to create an organizational talent pool aligned with your succession strategy. Include the following steps:

Assess your current employees: Identify potential skills gaps and competencies for learning and development. Review assessments carried out during the recruitment process for your more recent hires. Remember to include feedback from career pathing evaluation and performance reviews.

Create training programs: Support your employees to attain the skills needed for critical roles. This can include internal or external training, management coaching and peer feedback for example. Again, organizations with continuous performance management programs will have a head start. Mentoring can also help to coach key staff and brings with it the added bonus of improving engagement.

Review your progress and adjust: As an integral part of your succession planning strategy, your talent pools should be monitored and your staff evaluated on a regular basis. Include a review of the current skills shortages within your sector to ensure your goals can still be met if a key employee leaves your organization.

Take advantage of technology: According to Mercer ‘the ability to unlock growth in the human age will rely on how digital technologies can augment the human work experience’. For maximum benefit this should apply to your entire talent management strategy. The most effective technology covers critical areas such as career pathing, competency management and development planning to create an organizational talent pool and support your succession planning strategy.

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