Business Development

8 Key Steps for Successful Talent Planning



Talent planning has quickly become yet another part of the organisational puzzle that HR must be ready to take on.

HR professionals are now tasked with identifying and training employees to give them the tools to take on new roles.  

Since 2016, employers have been placing a larger emphasis on talent planning. The CIPD surveyed a group of organisations to find out how much of their focus was placed on talent planning. 75% of those polled said they were concentrating on developing in house talent.

Bringing in new talent can be expensive, time consuming and difficult for businesses – increasingly so due to Brexit. In light of this, we’re sharing some key steps for successful talent planning, so that you can maximise the talent that you have in house.




Understand the Business Goals

The talent planning process should be used in part to reach the organisational goals. If one of these goals is to expand within a set time, then you may be required to source trustworthy and skilled managers.

With the right talent management strategy, you’ll have an earmarked internal candidate trained and ready to step into this role.

Aligning the goals of the business with your plan is your key to success. By doing so, you have a crop of internal talent ready to step up when set goals are met. Earmarked employees gain skills that they can use in their existing role; this also primes them for a further role as needed.


Screen Employees

Not every internal employee is a good match for promotion. It’s up to you to determine who the strongest players are within the workforce. Those that work well within their current role aren’t always suited for a role in management or leadership.

The Peter Principle warns us that those that make their way up the hierarchical structure because they are good at their initial role have the potential to cause chaos.

Effectively, the theory relates to workers that excel at their day to day role and receive promotion. From there, they have more management tasks, but some portions of their day are still dedicated to the attribute that caused their selection for promotion. Eventually, they take on more roles in management and less in the initial arena that contributed to their success.

Simply put, your best salesperson isn’t automatically appropriate for the role of Head of Sales through a series of promotions. The sales skill that got them noticed initially is then no longer in use and they may not necessarily have strong management skills.

The huge benefit that internal promotion has over outside talent is that you can see how the employee performs in their existing job.

If you notice that an employee frequently becomes exasperated with others or doesn’t lead well, then you may want to reconsider the type of training you’ll advise for them. They may require too much training to take the next step or not be cut out for a management role.




Set Expectations

Any time that you want to upskill an employee, you must communicate what you expect from them. In turn, you should also tell them what you’ll be doing to facilitate this. If you want them to complete a course within a timeframe, then it’s important to clear parts of their schedule to make this possible.

Work with them to understand the course load, as well as any options for further flexibility. Online training can be undertaken as and when convenient, with less disruption to the schedule. Check in once the training is underway to determine if enough time out of the working week has been dedicated to the tasks required.

Keep touching base and ensuring that progress is being made. Additional learning can end up taking a back seat if you don’t encourage the employee and check in often.


Compare Outside Applicants

Understanding where your newly skilled employee sits within the wider job market is also a consideration. If you plan to give them a new job title, then figure out what the going rate for such a role is.

Outside applicants may have better qualifications and have more experience, but in turn demand a higher salary. Use these elements to inform what you plan to offer for the position and the perks that you can give the employee.


Reward Success

A brand-new qualification looks great for your employee, but with it they may begin to look elsewhere. This is perfectly natural and shouldn’t discourage you from investing in their future. The easiest way to retain them within your business is to reward their efforts to learn.

Ideally, you’ll have a new job in mind for this employee when they complete the relevant qualifications. This will come with its own rewards, but you can emphasise this to create a better culture for all employees.

Showing that the company is open to upskilling and progression helps to retain your members of staff. If they believe that they can gain qualifications and better prospects within the company, there’s no need to apply elsewhere.  




Continue Development

As an employee comes close to reaching a goal or completing a qualification, it’s time to think about what comes next. Identifying more areas for them to grow is a must, as they should continue to be challenged longer term. If their development becomes stagnant then they become less engaged with their job.

Many of these qualifications are tiered, so completing one will allow the employee to move to a more advanced level for the next. This can culminate in a high-level professional qualification, benefitting both the employee and the workplace.


Create New Roles

Naturally, some of these newly trained employees will fall into positions vacated by other staff members but others may not. You still want to be able to reward employees that have undertaken training in the form of new job roles and responsibilities.

This calls back to how closely the employee, the overall organisation and HR are aligned. If you suddenly have too many over skilled workers, you can’t possibly hope to create a new position for them all!

For this reason, you want to carefully monitor the number of staff that have been selected for training and the number that have left the business. Where possible, create new roles to utilise the skills that these employees have learned.




Invite Feedback

Finally, you should check that these qualifications, coaching and talent planning are all useful for the employee. During an annual review or even an exit interview, you can pick their brains about what is most helpful for them in their role.

This could highlight an area in which further training is needed or where more time should be allocated for personal development.


The role of talent planning within HR will no doubt continue to skyrocket. Companies are valuing their existing employees further and providing them with the training they require to reach the next level of their career.

If you’re not currently placing an emphasis on this, then it’s time to lay these plans for the future.


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