How To Build A Strategically Valuable Talent Pipeline

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Aug 26, 2016

When we hire, we are bent on finding talent with performance that soars, an attitude of learning and an interest in the long haul. All those variables are difficult to identify or even encounter in the roller coaster world of talent acquisition, especially when finding an amazing candidate doesn’t mean you’ve hired an equally stellar employee. Tack on the pressure to fill empty seats during crunch time and a great team dynamic might feel unobtainable.

The only way to prepare for a constantly changing horizon is to build a talent pipeline for the future. Of course, creating a talent pipeline isn’t as simple as passing out business cards, sending emails and watching the resumes pour in.

Plan for pipeline progress

The talent pipeline touches every single department of your business and because of that, it requires the buy-in of senior leaders at the very top and management/employees all the way down the line. It should consistently align to the fairly unchanging business values and always updated organizational goals. You’ve built a business strategy for the very reason of ensuring the seasonal ups and downs of the industry and generational changes of the workforce.

Case in point: in 2015, millennials made up 34% of the workforce when just 10 years prior, they weren’t even holding jobs. What works for your company today may not be suitable in 5 years. To address that, it’s important your pipeline is built along with the business strategy.

Keep your pipeline alive

Talent acquisition leaders know that, like the organization, the pipeline they build and manage is living and breathing. It changes and shifts with the times and the employee who couldn’t be hired last year, now has a whole additional year of experience under their belt. Likewise, the position she applied for a few months ago wasn’t a fit, but her skill set would be perfect for the opening you have in another department now.

The best part of a strong pipeline is that it supports business need as it changes and the hardest part of a strong pipeline is understanding that in order to have one, you must be changing along with it.

Predict talent needs

Hiring for today is necessary. Hiring for tomorrow is valuable. A combination of the two is ingenious. It’s near impossible to know what your organization will need by way of workforce next week, let alone next year, but planning for the future is what solid business strategy is all about.

Firstly, when the organization is experiencing changes, it’s important that the elements and details of the change on employees and team dynamics is critically considered. This is probably the most obvious part of predicting talent gaps, however, taking it a step further by clearly mapping the skills and abilities of influenced positions will bring your talent pipeline into play. Whether it’s attrition or a need for new skill sets, the talent pipeline can begin morphing to address those upcoming challenges.

Identify high potential employees

We like pipelines in the world of talent acquisition because they remind us that the candidates who are included are not just new talent. Very often an engaged employee can reenter the process and emerge a knowledgeable, guaranteed cultural fit. Not to mention, one study found that 60% of employers say employees who were promoted into a position performed significantly better than external hires in similar positions.

Part of building a strong talent pipeline is identifying the high potential, or HiPo, employees who are amazing assets in their current position, but have the capabilities of moving onto the next level within your company. HiPo employees are usually those quick learners who have an affinity for leading coworkers or mastering valuable skills. They not only have the mindset and personality of individual success, they are committed to the success of the organization.

Editor’s note: For another view on high potentials, see this.

Committing to the development of a pipeline is crucial for a successful business model. When times get tough or work outweighs workforce, your whole team feels the effects. That in mind, not only is the prospect of future hires important to your growth, it plays a large role in the happiness of your employees. A robust talent pipeline holds the answers to acquisition questions. Is yours under control or under construction?

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