• Jeff Doolittle

Talent Pipeline 201: Improving Your Position

Today’s Reality

Many organizations struggle with having ready now talent, but why should we even bother spending time trying to improve a company’s internal talent pipeline given the realities of our world today? Industries and companies are changing faster than talent can be identified and developed. Also, we do not even know what types of jobs to prepare our employees for in the future.

A talent pipeline is a pool of candidates who are qualified to assume open positions that have been newly created or vacated.

In a recent article titled Emerging Technologies’ Impact on Society & Work in 2030 (Source) by the Institute for the Future (IFTF) “a panel of 20 tech, business, and academic experts from around the world estimate that 85% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t been invented yet.

You might be thinking to yourself no one knows the future for sure. So let’s look at today’s situation in your company (if it has been around 10yrs or more). How many job titles exist in your company today that didn’t exist 5-10 years ago? I expect that you will be able to think of some. One estimate from the World Economic Forum (Source) in the article titled Human Capital Outlook suggests that “65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in entirely new job types that aren’t on our radar yet”.

Let's take a serious look at the pace of change within business today. The pace of change is only getting faster and having broader impacts. When facilitating workshops on the topic of change, I often ask leaders to think back and recount their company changes on a timeline. Each time I see an increase in the frequency of changes closer to the current date, some of this could be the tendency to weigh recent events more heavily than earlier events but even excluding a reasonable error of attribution leaders will agree there has been an increase. Today this stems from rapid advances in the fields of robotics, driverless transport, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, advanced materials, and genomics. These changes are driving more change.

A standard tool most companies use to identify and develop their talent pipeline for the future is succession planning. The current state of most company’s succession planning is not good. According to the Corporate Executive Board organizations fail to identify 50% of their positions with pre-identified successors. Executives have the lowest succession plan success rate, filling only 28% of jobs with pre-identified successors. I would expect to find many contributing factors for these poor results that vary by company, but one core, common, and critical factor that impacts every company is the variability with talent development. The reality is that talent does not always deliver results after investments are made into development. In the article (Source) Getting More from Your Training Programs, by Aaron De Smet, Monica Mcgurk, and Elizabeth Schwartz of McKinsey & Co. found that only 25% of respondents to a 2010 survey found that training improved employees’ performance.

Also, there's a fundamental shift underway within the employee population from traditional company-based employment to one of the freelancers and a gig economy. The 2017 Freelancing in America study by the Freelancers Union and Upwork (Source) estimated that nearly 57.3 million Americans – or 36 percent of the nation's workforce – are now freelancing, most of whom do so by choice (63 percent). This situation makes retaining a growing part of the economy a challenging proposition (check out my recent article Employee Retention 201: Improving Your Position for some ideas).

Talent Pipeline Changes and Disruption Needed