As businesses steer their way out of turbulence, they have a unique opportunity to identify their leadership supply and demand and close the talent gap in their organization.
Alan Bird, Lori Flees and Paul DiPaola explain how you can take immediate steps to build the right team now – and lay the groundwork for a long-term approach for nurturing talent within the organization.
Every CEO worries about having enough talent, but most are frustrated by the time and effort it takes to kick-start the talent machine. The most effective CEOs today not only recognize that it’s important to find, develop and deploy the best people, they also take personal responsibility for making it happen.
As companies emerge from one of the sharpest and steepest downturns in the world economy, they face a new talent challenge. Fewer companies will be growing aggressively. Immediate shortages are likely to be less acute, but leadership becomes more urgent than ever coming out of a downturn. Ensuring an adequate supply of leaders in roles in which they can make the most difference remains a vital priority. Downturns – and the very early recovery phase – also put great talent in play, which creates opportunities for companies to close their talent gaps and upgrade the quality of their leadership.
How to start?
Building a talent-rich organization is by its nature a multi-year challenge. But three specific steps not only will have an immediate impact on a company’s talent supply but will also lay the foundation for longer-term moves.
- First, quantify your leadership gap. Downturn or no, many companies don’t have a detailed picture of the talent challenge they’re facing. A rigorous analytic picture of the gap makes the challenge visible. Suddenly the talent issue can no longer be shuffled off to the human resources department; it is now on everyone’s agenda, including that of the CEO and board.
- Second, deploy current talent more effectively. Too many companies don’t know who their top performers are. Nor have they placed those individuals in the jobs in which they can have the most impact. Mismatches like these can cripple a company in a slowing economy.
- Third, reduce your demand for talent. This step is often overlooked, as companies focus mainly on supply of talent. Organizations that simplify their processes and spell out accountabilities more clearly can simultaneously keep costs under control and make the most of the talent they have.
In our experience, these steps help leaders address their talent challenges quickly, build longer-term commitment throughout the organization – and sustain the flow of investment in leadership supply.
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