Talent pools: a secret society?

According to the CIPD/Hays Resourcing and Talent Planning survey, the proportion of employers reporting a ‘war for talent’ has risen from 20% in 2009 to 62% in 2013. It also reported that around 60% of organisations have experienced difficulties filling vacancies in the past year, showing that talent pools are now essential for business success, as organisations must now focus on retaining and growing talent from within. So as talent awareness becomes a widespread factor in determining business success, is it safe to share who has been selected as part of your talent pool?

Identifying your talent can seem challenging enough, and you may feel that you’re adding to the potential disappointment and resentment by naming those who have and haven’t ‘made the grade’. However, silence can be more damaging to staff morale. Refusing to make your talent pool a ‘secret society’ can spark motivation as well as discourage the ‘politics’ which too often surrounds talent selection.

I suggest promoting your talent openly and effectively in the workplace using these simple steps:

1. Consider your workforce

Many employees may feel unable to tell colleagues they have been selected for a talent pool, fearing the reactions of peers who find out, especially if they’ve not been selected as well. Whilst those chosen will feel positive, motivated and valued by their organisation, others may feel deflated, disengaged and segregated from colleagues. There is also a risk that those selected could develop an air of superiority in becoming part of an elite ‘secret society.’

Businesses often focus too much on defining talent pools rather than communicating talent strategy effectively to their workforce. The inability to talk freely about talent in a workplace can impact on collaboration, teamwork and ultimately innovation. And so as well as conveying what it means for an employee to be part of a talent pool, organisations equally need to consider those who may feel over-looked or as if they’ve failed to ‘make the cut.’

2. Communicate effectively

There will always be elements of talent management that must remain confidential, but that doesn’t mean that talent programmes should be shrouded in secrecy.

It begins with an open and honest dialogue, to not only gain a greater understanding of employee potential, but to minimise divisions within the workplace. Each employee must know clearly how to progress to the next level, regardless of whether they’re in a talent pool or not.

This transparency not only allows you to easily identify and develop high performers, but also gives you the inside track on who’s right for a new internal position or who could be the best fit for a senior role in the future.

3. Create a talent management culture

Finally, it is vital that talent management and succession planning are openly reflected in your corporate culture. Business leaders need to show they are committed to the development of each individual’s skillset and career path. Ensure you create and clearly communicate a talent management strategy that supports, nurtures and values all employees, not just those who are deemed to be high-potential.

Company-wide transparency allows talent management to be an open and honest process, where organisations can focus on developing talented individuals without upsetting the applecart. Conversation plays a key part in talent strategy, and so in order to meet today’s and tomorrow’s talent challenges and optimise business strategy, it is essential that HR professionals effectively manage talent pools and the communications surrounding them.

What does your talent management strategy look like? Can you afford to keep your talent pools a secret?

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CIPD/Hays Resourcing and Talent Planning Survey (2013).

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