Future-proof your team: Leverage internal talent for strategic success

Ed McEwan | 18 April 2024

“How can I find the right people to achieve my future goals when external hiring is not an option?”  This is a question that many organisations are asking themselves, particularly in the current economic climate when businesses are faced with significant challenges that often curtail growth ambitions.
 Edward McEwan explores the value of internal pools of talent and the importance of looking beyond a workforce’s current capability and experiences.

It’s not uncommon for leaders to believe that the only way to get the right people in place is to hire externally. While the attraction of fresh perspectives and innovative ideas is undeniable, external hiring isn’t always feasible.

So, what’s the answer? How can leaders find the right people who will help them to focus on the future, and deliver long-term value, when they can’t recruit externally?

Internal talent pools

To prepare a business for ‘the future of work’, companies must focus inwards and tap into the wealth of talent already present within their organisations. When leaders are armed with the right information about their workforce, they’re able to identify internal individuals who can support in achieving their organisation’s objectives.

In today’s rapidly changing landscape, businesses have an unprecedented need for new skills at an accelerated rate. In order to meet this demand, they need to demonstrate a commitment to upskilling their existing workforce and championing internal career mobility. While in the past companies might have heavily relied on talent acquisition to ‘buy’ the required skills, this strategy alone is no longer sufficient for the current labour market and business environment. But how can you successfully unlock the full potential of your internal talent?

Anchor talent needs within the company strategy 

Organisations must first review their strategy and pinpoint where critical capabilities and roles are situated. By honing in on these key elements, they can eliminate distractions and zero in on what truly drives value and sustains future performance. Through this process, a business can identify non-negotiable capabilities required to sustain core operations, along with capabilities that are instrumental in helping develop a workforce of the future.

Measurement is key

It’s essential to measure a workforce’s capability against future requirements, as well as developing learning interventions which focus on closing the gap. Once these roles and capabilities are clearly defined, the next step involves gathering objective data on the existing workforce, and measuring the organisation’s current capability against its future requirements. At this point it’s also important to understand individuals’ natural working preferences and motivations. This process helps to identify gaps and the specific learning interventions necessary to bridge them. It also provides organisations with the data they need to develop high-performing teams, where individuals complement one another due to high degrees of cognitive diversity.  Despite sounding complicated, this can be completed relatively easily and at scale.

Ensure succession planning is completed deeper within the organisation 

Frequently, efforts are concentrated on C-suite succession planning, neglecting the potential of leaders deeper within the organisation. This results in a reactive approach to succession planning and impedes the development of individuals and the leadership qualities needed to develop into senior roles, therefore perpetuating the dependency on external talent.

By taking a proactive approach to succession planning and identifying latent potential within an organisation, when change becomes necessary a company has a well-defined roadmap for unearthing future leaders, spanning from senior roles right down to middle management

So… how is this all turned into action? 

A good starting point is to change the perception of where talent truly resides. Businesses should focus on improving the effectiveness of their existing workforce by identifying key roles and critical capabilities essential for achieving business objectives. It’s crucial to recognise that there is no silver bullet; the key lies in adopting a more strategic mindset to talent management, contextualised within the organisation’s future context. Only through such a strategic perspective can businesses look to meet their growing demands and in doing so reduce their dependency on external hiring.

Learn more about unearthing internal talent, or if you’d like to speak to one of our consultants immediately, please contact us.

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