Don’t get left behind: the best practices for talent planning in the digital age
In the changing business world, it is important to build strong teams inside your organization. With efficient talent planning, you can match talent supply to business demand, and keep your employees happy at the same time.
In this article, we will cover what talent planning is, its role within organizations, and some best practices for its successful implementation.
What is talent planning?
Talent planning is the process of getting a holistic view of company skills and individual skills, aligning these with business, and then helping people grow in those areas. It’s about matching skills to business demand and retaining your best talent in the process.
“Today’s top talent strategies are the ones that fill critical roles across the organization with high-potential prospects and ensure top-performing employees are retained as well.” —Lever
However, not all companies are properly aligned with talent planning initiatives. According to Betterworks’ 2022 report, The State of Performance Enablement, “More than half (53%) of employees don’t discuss career and growth more than once a quarter and 20% say they rarely or never have such discussions with managers.”
The issue is often not that companies don’t see the value of talent planning, but that they aren’t aware that there are specific tools designed with talent planning in mind. The report goes on to say:
“The lack of focus on development and career growth we see in these numbers may in part be a result of a lack of technology and process infrastructure to support such conversations.”
However, the technology is not lacking. DevSkiller TalentBoost for instance is specifically designed to address this exact issue within a company’s infrastructure.
Talent planning methods
There are predominantly two main areas in which a company can focus its talent planning efforts—acquisition and outsourcing.
Understanding that a new role will require skills that the current workforce does not yet possess will lead a business to either have to recruit new employees who already have the required skills, or, retrain current employees so that they eventually possess the necessary skills.
Acquisition can come in two forms:
- Internal recruitment
- Traditional (external) recruitment.
To require new employees to possess every skill your company needs, given the fact that many digital skills are very new, might be an unrealistic challenge for many companies. For this reason, reskilling (and upskilling) current employees already within the company can be a preferred means of effective talent planning for many modern companies.
For instance, someone who is already a data analyst will likely possess many of the same skills that the role of a data scientist requires. Although additional skills and training will be needed to take a data analyst and turn them into a data scientist, the foundational knowledge is already there. This means that a person already working in one role, might be the perfect candidate for a reskilling initiative to allow them to train for a somewhat similar, but new role.
One talent planning method for ensuring your company keeps up with changing demand, is to outsource tasks to external workers on a case-by-case basis. This can be a very effective form of talent planning for many companies. However, hiring someone else to carry out the work of your company can be expensive. Not only that, but if your own workforce does not carry out many of the tasks of your business themselves, then they may not develop the skills needed for your company to be self-sufficient and soon you may rely on outsourcing all the more.
Learning & Development
A good talent plan takes into account the skills gaps of individual employees and their professional development needs. Once you understand what your employees are capable of, it’s easy to see where there might be some gaps between what your business needs and what your employees can offer.
With those gaps identified, you can then determine how best to close them—whether that means providing additional training internally or sending employees out for external courses depending on their individual needs and career trajectories.
The role of talent planning in the organization
Modern companies need to think about how they can provide their employees with the best possible experience and growth opportunities. They need to have a deep understanding of both the business needs as well as the skillsets of their employees—and then find ways to align those two factors.
However, not all employees feel like they have the tools to support their growth. Betterworks’ previously mentioned report states, “Only 4 in 10 employees feel like they have the right tools to track their career growth.”
This is where an advanced talent management platform can be invaluable to your company. Talent management tools like DevSkiller TalentBoost offer a holistic view of the capabilities of each of your employees and allow you to manage their skills, learning, and development, all in one place.
Talent planning best practices
Align talent planning with your business goals
You need to align your talent planning activities with your business goals so that you’re not just talking about what skills people should have, but also how they will be used by the organization. The trick is to present employees with growth opportunities in a direction that is meaningful to the company, but also to them specifically.
Get a view of company skills and individual skills
To do this, you need to understand what makes someone good at their job so that you know how well they’ll fit into various teams within your organization. Next, you need to align business with talent planning; this means ensuring that your teams have enough people with the right skill set available at any given time so that nothing falls through the cracks due to a lack of manpower or expertise.
This will involve firstly, creating a detailed skills map of every skill the various processes of your company require. Once you have mapped out the intricacies that make up each role, and, importantly, the skills those roles will likely require in the near future, only then can you begin to get a true sense of what is needed.
Next, you need to turn to your current employees and create detailed profiles around each of them that accurately describe their current skills and capabilities. Here’s what it can look like:
You can then begin to match the skills with the roles and see what skills are left that aren’t being covered as well as which candidate from those you have, is most likely to be able to fill the gap.
Define and measure growth
It is crucial in talent development to define and measure growth so that everyone knows what’s expected of them at any given point in time (and how they can achieve those expectations). This way, if someone has a skills gap then you know about it early on.
A properly designed skills map should allow you to evaluate and adjust the strategy where necessary. Learning and development goals should be structured to meet individual needs. Targets should be set and clear expectations provided of what needs to be achieved in order for that employee to get promoted. Everyone needs to feel like they are moving forward.
There are two key techniques worth mentioning here.
- When rating employee progress, use more than one source of feedback for objectivity. As an example, you can use a combination of self-rating, supervisor rating, and skills assessment score to get a 360-view of how the employee is advancing.
Once you have introduced a skills assessment platform into your talent planning processes, then defining and measuring growth can become very simple. For instance, if you are assessing a candidate’s tech skills, then DevSkiller TalentScore provides objective skills assessments. You can set a benchmark pass-level for what it takes for a particular person to be considered adequate in that skill. Take the example of coding boot camp Kodilla, which implements DevSkiller TalentScore assessments to be able to verify that its graduates have acquired the skills they need to land their first programming job. By doing so, the company can apply an objective score to ensure its new employees are qualified at the required level.
Plan for future roles
In an ever-changing digital industry, it is important to look ahead and work out where your company will be, all going well, in the next few years. This means also assessing what roles are likely to become important within your organization and how to plan for them.
You can begin to assess what skills are likely to become more and more integral to the way your business operates. For instance, if you plan to transfer much of your company’s data to the cloud in the coming years (if you haven’t already), then this might require a cloud architect. Also, someone to manage and assess that data—a data scientist. Whatever direction your company is heading in, it is important to make accurate predictions about which skills will be the most useful to you moving forward, and then make sure you have a plan for who will develop those skills in the future. You can identify key employees even now, and start them on a development path that might shape the future of your company.
Design meaningful learning pathways
Investing in learning pathways without an in-depth understanding of the current skills and the level of skills employees possess within the company is a big mistake. Shaping learning pathways starts with the visibility of talent. Technologies like DevSkiller TalentBoost exist to help give instant access to the thousands of skills your workforce has acquired and identify skills gaps. Mapping skills is a constant process that must be supported by cutting-edge technology that encourages employees to share information on their skills and the progress made to develop them. Managers should feel empowered by such technologies to set out and evaluate learning paths for individual employees.
Plan for disruptions
What if there is only one person in your organization who knows how to perform a key skill? Now let’s say that same employee leaves the company suddenly or takes ill. Where will that leave your business?
Planning for disruptions is a key aspect of talent planning in the digital age. It is not enough to identify skills gaps, you need to also identify potential threats to your company’s progress.
Bus factor analysis is the practice of assessing the risk that information and capabilities might not be properly shared among team members. It is something you need to take into account during your talent planning. If a digital skill is critical, then ensure that several people are in possession of that knowledge. Also, look at creating mentoring programs within your organization to guarantee that this information is being properly passed down from employee to employee while keeping track of their progress.
The digital age is not on its way, it’s already here. Effective talent planning within your organization is not just a recommendation, very soon it will be the cornerstone of the success of many companies. Not only acknowledging the digital skills gap but adequately preparing for it and planning ahead, will be the critical factor driving the leading organizations of the future.
Learn how DevSkiller TalentBoost can revolutionize your talent planning for the future
Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay