Creating a Talent Plan

“Let’s face it. The only thing that really differentiates your business from the competition is your people.” – Rusty Reuff, Talent Force

Every now and then I revisit one of my many business books just to see if I missed anything from an earlier read or to look at a topic in a different light based on what has happened in the business world since the book was first published. There is always something new, some new idea presents itself and that is the case with my recent re-read of Talent Force.

The book was published in 2006 and in it Rusty Rueff, co-author introduces the idea of a talent plan and defines it this way. “A comprehensive talent plan delineates the company’s recruiting and deployment strategies by business unit and by position within each unit. Additionally, the talent plan includes measureable forecasts, such as recruitment and deployment costs, time to acquisition and time to productivity for new talent. The talent plan allows the talent leader and other executives, including the CEO, to manage and measure this function alongside the rest of the business.”

What struck me about this talent plan idea when I first read the book was how similar the description was, for example, to what our company Q4B was offering our clients. Most, if not all, did not have a talent plan. In these cases, Q4B helped the client create and implement a plan thus allowing our Q4B consultants to provide the type of service required and deliver the right talent to the right position when needed.

What strikes me now upon re-reading is how little has changed on the client side. Many companies that we approach still do not have a talent plan and are still reacting to job requisitions rather than anticipating planned needs through proper forecasting. This is surely good news for companies like ours. We know that there is a need for a talent plan if companies want to grow and be successful. We know that we have been helping our customers implement talent plans as part of our recruitment process outsourcing engagements. We also know that as the economy begins to slowly rebound there will be significant pressure on internal recruiters to do more with less and without a plan that is nearly impossible.

That being said, what is required to create a talent plan? According to Rueff and our own Q-S4 process approach you need to understand the following broad areas that are critical to a company’s success:

  • The company’s goals and objectives
  • Key milestones that must be accomplished to meet those goals and objectives
  • The problem that the company’s goods or services solve, or the needs they fill in the marketplace
  • The size of the problem or need and the value of solving or filling it
  • Special or unique aspects of the company’s products, solutions or approach
  • The customer who uses those goods or services, and how the goods or services are used
  • What it takes to build, sell, deploy, and maintain the company’s products or services
  • The company’s distribution and supply models, including key industry partners and their core skills
  • The company’s competitors, their offerings, and how the company strives to differentiate itself from the competition

Once this information is gathered you then need to ask departmental leaders and hiring managers the following questions.

  • How their department aligns with and supports the overall business
  • What the departmental goals are and how progress is measured against those goals
  • An outline of the critical skills and positions necessary for the department to be successful, and how those skills and positions help the company accomplish its strategic goals
  • Examples of ideal candidates including specific qualification parameters
  • Departmental initiatives, Projects, or other activities, including any expected launch dates, release-to-manufacturing dates, or other corporate deadlines that must be factored into hiring decisions

Sounds like a lot of information to gather, a big investment of time in which to gather the information and an overall considerable commitment from the organization to accomplish this. Perhaps this is why many companies do not have a comprehensive talent plan, despite how important it is to their success in competing for top talent.

Is that your excuse?

Q4B may not have coined the term talent plan but we have been helping our clients develop and implement plans for acquiring talent since we started in 2004 and that was before the book, Talent Force was published.

So, if your company does not currently have a talent plan and would want to create one, you can read the book and call us or just call a company like ours. But remember, I have read the book twice.






5 responses to “Creating a Talent Plan

  1. Without a talent plan our efforts aren’t scalable or repeatable. The danger of not having a talent plan is that recruiting teams spin our wheels and never achieve the greatness we were meant to achieve in our roles. A talent plan will guide you through a process that will result in attracting and hiring great candidates. So long as you follow the process and use the information it is providing to continually improve the process your planning will pay out in the long run for everyone.

  2. The first real job that I ever had was supporting the recruiting function at a financial services company in Chicago that did something similar to a talent plan – they reviewed the management of their organization twice a year. They looked at each individual, rated them, reviewed the previous 6 months performance, had a succession plan in place for the critical roles, etc. These meetings were with the Chairman and Senior Management who took the time to meet with recruiting and discuss their management talent to ensure they had the right individuals in the right roles so that the company would succeed. I didn’t realize it at the time, but now I think that was pretty revolutionary for the late 80’s!

    • If memory serves me, everything in the late 80’s was considered revolutionary. Looking back on your first real job this was certainly a great experience to have been working for an organization that was doing it right. Many companies are still not planning for their success when it comes to Talent Acquisition. Good news for us!

  3. Talent Force is a great read, though admittedly I’ve only read it once. Another key I would add at the departmental level is the importance of understanding what the top performers are doing to stand out from the pack. Usually certain behavioral patterns can be identified within each department that can provide crucial insight into finding the right people for the department and often the company as a whole.

    • Sometimes books are better the second time around, especially if you have also seen the movie. Great comment Eric. You are correct regarding the need for companies to incorporate success attributes of their top performers into their hiring decision. There are a number of good tools available to accomplish this.

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