What Is Talent Planning?
By definition, talent planning is designed to use an organization’s existing capabilities and potential to meet current and future business needs. Properly leveraged, it creates a foundation on which to build and link critical talent management processes, including sourcing, succession management, leadership development and performance management.
When focused on near-term business needs, talent planning concentrates on maximizing the effectiveness of current talent, and when considering future business needs, it is designed to promote bench strength and create readiness for movement. In the post-economic crisis business environment, meeting future business challenges by bolstering capabilities and fostering development in order to engage and retain talent is not a “nice to have” for organizations, it’s a necessity.
The talent planning process typically consists of talent assessment, development planning and tracking progress. While these steps are highly appropriate, placing them in the context of the firm’s business review and goal-setting process appropriately position the talent planning process as the centerpiece of the annual business planning cycle in order to ensure that talent discussions and action planning are aligned to meet the future needs of the organization. Using the business review to initiate the talent planning process, it could flow as follows:Business review:
Talent planning begins with the business review. A senior executive should lead this process, which would typically cover the annual operating plan along with current and expected future state-of-the-business projections. These conversations provide foundational information on the organization’s needs and set the table for talent leaders to conduct in-depth talent planning. Consider the following questions as a way to frame that discussion.
- How did we perform over the last annual business cycle? Where did we exceed targets, and where did we fall short of expectations? What were the drivers of those outcomes?
- What are the near-term — three to 12 months — business goals? Define the business goals that need to be achieved for the upcoming quarter and annual business cycle. For example, what are the sales targets, product development cycles or new markets?
- What are the longer-term — 13 to 36 months — business goals? Thinking strategically, describe the next phase of business growth to be achieved. For example, what is needed to keep or gain competitive advantage or to expand the core business? What is the next phase of evolution for the business?
- What are the current and future critical business challenges? Map out any obstacles to achieving these business goals and ideas that can be utilized to address these issues. Are new product capabilities required, is there a pipeline for research, or are there pressures to reduce costs?
- What are the two or three most critical skills and attributes needed to meet these business goals and challenges? Can we identify what top key positions need to be in place to lead the organization in support of these goals?