The Great Resignation is all anyone seems to talk about anymore. While you’re probably doing a great job keeping employees happy, it’s almost impossible to have a 0% turnover rate. That’s why firms need to boost their bench strength using talent pools.
In today’s work environment, succession plans are too disconnected. They often only look for replacements in the specific department or – even more narrow – the team.
Because they’re not connected with other HR programs (e.g., workforce planning, performance management, and learning & development), according to the blueprint Use Talent Pools to Support Flexibility in Succession Planning by McLean & Company.
Not being connected causes duplicate efforts and inadequate development for other employees. And keeping the narrow focus on just the team or department means the firm misses out on opportunities for cross-functional development.
Change the way of thinking
When firms think about secession plans, it’s typically only in the realm of executive and senior leaders leaving and causing a vulnerability in the firm’s foundation.
But in all honesty, when a role is left vacant with no one to jump in and fill it at any level that also creates a crack in the foundation. Maybe not a big one, but it’s still a crack that will get bigger and bigger until the position is filled.
“The leadership environment has changed, and succession planning must change with it. While succession planning is characteristically long-term, business no longer is,” said James Alexander, Senior VP, Client Success at Info-Tech Research Group.
Flexibility in succession plans
HR professionals wear so many different hats it’s nearly impossible to excel in all of them.
This blueprint looked at 31 capabilities of HR professionals and found that succession planning was ranked as the least effective. In fact, 63% rated their succession planning effectiveness at a six or lower on a scale of zero to 10. But 77% also ranked it as an eight or higher as something they believe is a critical function to achieve business and HR goals.
To build flexibility in succession plans:
Group critical roles together
These should be roles that share similar knowledge and skills. Critical roles placed in a specific group should be a potential successor to any role within that group. That doesn’t mean every critical role in a specific group has the exact same competencies. But they must share several similarities so they’re able to be grouped together. If a role seems to fit in a few groups, place it in the “most appropriate one to limit the number of potential successors,” according to the blueprint.
The benefits of grouping roles allow for easier interdepartmental movement, provide a much larger talent pool and stronger bench strength, and open leaders’ eyes to the diverse talent they have in their company. It’s also likely to increase retention because employees see the vast opportunities they have to advance in the company outside their departments.
Create talent pools
A talent pool is “a group of potential successors for a specific role group that consists of more than two individuals,” according to the blueprint. If used properly, talent pools prevent only having one qualified successor for an open position. Every role group has its own talent pool – people who’ve been identified as having the skills and competencies required to succeed in any position in the group.
To be put in a talent pool, there are specific criteria that must be met when it comes to competencies and credentials for that role group. The criteria are created by leaders and HR. When employees are placed in specific role groups, it’s the company’s responsibility to help develop their skills and competencies to succeed in any of the role group’s positions. If an employee is placed in more than one talent pool, it’s hard for companies to focus on individual development.
Note: Talent pools can be filled with internal or external people. However, fill them with internal people first to boost retention. Not to mention the fact that internal candidates will need less training, cutting down on the cost of recruiting and training. You can pull in external candidates when you identify a talent gap within the organization.
Choose successors from talent pools
Employees should know which talent pool they’re in and that they’re “potential successors” for those roles. This helps them with their professional development plan. They should know why they were picked for the specific group and be given a chance to voice any opinions or concerns. The benefit of making employees aware of their placement in talent pools is they’re “more committed to increased performance demands, competency building and strategic priorities of the organization,” according to the blueprint. It also helps decrease turnover when employees know they’re being groomed for career advancement.
To select a candidate for an upcoming vacancy, look at the requirements for the position. Then look at the talent pool for that specific role group and select candidates who are move-in ready. Meet with each candidate and make sure they’re still interested in the open role, and if they are, set up an internal interview process for all candidates who meet the criteria for the position. Do a final assessment, pick the best candidate and have that person’s manager offer the opportunity for advancement to the vacant role. And communicate to all candidates who was selected and why to remain transparent and fair.
That promotion will create another hole that’ll be filled in the same way.