Lack of Systematic Strategy Hampers Talent Planning

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By Martin Berman-Gorvine

Many employers, especially medium-sized ones, report dissatisfaction with their own talent-planning efforts, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Just one in seven (14 percent) of talent recruitment executives at mid-sized employers would give their organizations an “A” grade on talent strategy, and more than four in 10 would award themselves a “C” or lower, according to a survey released Dec. 21 by executive coaching company Vistage Worldwide and the National Center for the Middle Market, a collaboration between Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business, SunTrust Banks Inc., Grant Thornton and Cisco Systems.

The online survey was conducted Oct. 6 to 17 among 400 C-level executives involved in talent recruitment at companies with annual revenues between $10 million and $1 billion.

Employers need to create “a systematic framework for talent planning” that includes “1. Aligning talent strategy with corporate strategy; 2. Building sufficient processes to ensure systematic talent planning efforts; 3. Involving leadership in the process as opposed to handing off to human resources; and 4. Engaging employees in talent planning and ensuring they recognize the value of the process,” according to the report. Succession planning, programs for high-potential employees and addressing skills gaps are all vital, the report says.

Rebecca L. Ray, an executive vice president at the Conference Board, which was not involved with the survey, told Bloomberg BNA in a Dec. 22 e-mail that “some of the biggest mistakes” in talent strategizing are:

  •  “Not having a truly 360-degree view so that plans are informed by both internal and external data: the organization’s strategic direction and the skills necessary to execute that strategy as well as demographic trends, labor markets, business climate and regulatory changes”;
  •  “Lack of understanding of how the business will evolve and what the implications are for shifts in needed organizational skills”;
  •  “Failure to understand what skills can be taught to existing employees and to build the longer-term plan to address future critical skill shortages”; and
  •  “Overlooking non-traditional sources of talent and not casting a wide-enough net.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Martin Berman-Gorvine in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tony Harris at

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