Where are your future leaders?

Talent intelligence specialist Martin Retschko on why external research is now even more critical to effective succession planning

Where are your future leaders?

If there’s one lesson the past 18 months have driven home, it’s to be equipped for change. Which is partly why a static approach to succession planning is fast giving way to a more dynamic, diverse model. Gone are the days where senior roles were invariably replaced from within the organisation in ‘next in line’ House of Windsor fashion.

“Thanks to globalisation, competition and technology, organisations’ structures have become more dynamic and fluid. COVID has only sped up that process for many organisations,” says Martin Retschko, country leader Australia & New Zealand at talent intelligence specialist Armstrong Craven.

“Succession planning now has to consider multiple potential outcomes and scenarios in a much more dynamic environment. It is no longer about replacement - it’s more about transformation.”

So where do we now look for our future leaders?

“It’s a question a lot of HRDs are asking,” says Retschko. “There is a focus on rapid reskilling at all levels, to equip talent to perform and thrive in this new environment. But sometimes that is not enough. It’s a question of ‘where is our future talent external to the organisation, and how do we engage with that audience?’”

Succession planning has traditionally been about lining up “the usual suspects”, he says. “But we have seen a propensity for boards to bring greater diversity into the organisation; of thought, and from a gender and cultural perspective. Right now, for example, we are working with organisations that are male-dominated, to understand the diversity within external talent pools, what motivates these individuals and how they make career decisions.  This intel is aiding more targeted employer branding, talent acquisition and succession planning.”

Within and without

COVID has identified underlying structural weaknesses in organisations that were not equipped for change, highlighting the need for succession to be viewed through both an external and a future-focused lens.

“The HRDs we work with are saying ‘we want to bring in people from other industries with fresh thinking, to bring in different capabilities such as digital transformation from organisations that have been through that journey’. It’s about bringing outside knowledge to challenge what’s been done and accelerate change.”

However, organisations can no longer assume they know what is driving the external talent on their wishlist, because attitudes have changed, says Retschko.

“People now have a heightened awareness of what an organisation stands for, how they sit in the community at large, their purpose, their perspective on diversity and inclusion. During this period of change, external talent is aware of how organisations have managed human resources since COVID. They’re also asking ‘what do I want from my career, how do I want to work, who do I want to work for?”

Bring on the data

To understand the dynamics of external talent pools, research plays a crucial role.  Many organisations have capability to accurately define and track high priority talent pools.   This talent intelligence collects, analyses and uses information from the external market to inform current and future talent strategy. “For example, we have organisations building talent hubs in new locations, but first they need to understand the size, makeup and behaviour of those talent pools.”

There is a great deal of general information about changes in the external talent market. However, it is important to “know your own market” through specific research aimed at providing deep knowledge of critical and senior talent markets.  For many organisations, this research can extend to proactive engagement with external talent.

“Organisations will, as part of their approach to succession risk management, meet and build relationships with external talent. If an individual doesn’t join the organisation, it is still a valued activity because it builds knowledge of key talent in an area of strategic importance,” says Retschko.

For the data to be relevant to your goals, you have to start with the right questions. Armstrong Craven will talk to HR leaders and, with a theme or question as a starting point, conduct deep research into that area.

“As specialists in talent research, we use sophisticated quantitative and qualitative methods to respond to the toughest talent challenges and questions.  We provide visibility of the external talent landscape, which leads to more successful and competitive decisions around talent.”

To find out more, go to https://www.armstrongcraven.com/talent-intelligence-consulting/

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