Filling the talent pipeline, even as it is under construction

Over the last 30 years, I’ve worked in nine different countries, most of them in Asia. And in that time, I’ve learned a great deal about what kind of leaders thrive when the going gets messy.

I still remember when the enormity of the talent challenge facing Asian businesses in particular hit home for me. It was 2005 and I was in Shanghai leading a workshop for human resources leaders at 10 of the largest multinationals operating in China. Recruitment, employee value proposition, compensation, retention, development—these were only a few of the jigsaw puzzle pieces of their talent issue. The big picture was this: they needed to build a sustainable pipeline of leaders—and all of them admitted falling short.

Building a sustainable pipeline doesn’t just entail recruiting, training, and giving raises so your executives don’t jump ship. Rather, it touches on building a strong culture of talent across the entire company which requires inspired leadership from the top.

And it starts with hiring and promoting the right talent. The best way to fill this executive pipeline, even as it is under construction, is to find good people who get up to speed fast, listen to them, and give them running room. A company can accelerate leadership development if it has first selected people who embrace learning and change. Then, with the right support, including mentoring and coaching, organizations turn these individuals into the  innovative, inspiring and impactful leaders they need.

Our talent pipelines will always be a work in progress, just as we, as leaders, are always “under construction.” By focusing on the important things, which includes having the right people on the team, organizations will move faster to build a sustainable pipeline and win in the marketplace with the best talent.

Talent assessment is how search consultants can get ahead of the curve

Despite the recession—in part because of it—the best executives can still move to new companies. And the best companies still open their doors to the best talent.

But companies are becoming increasingly nuanced and uncompromising in their assessments. The economic stakes are higher than ever and, as a result, companies have come to own the candidate tracking, market mapping, relationship-management and assessment processes.

So why has the executive search industry taken such a hit during this recession? Because most of them are transactors who don’t provide the value-added talent consulting to their clients. At a time when they should be considered mission-critical, many executive search firms are bystanders, asking for the order and competing on price. Meanwhile, their corporate clients have improved their own talent assessment skills, know their markets for talent, and gravitate to the few consultants who truly understand their needs.

The executive search industry will continue to fall behind unless they become true partners on talent. This recession marks a time when companies can leap ahead of their competition. The search consultants and their clients should be joined at the hip. It’s time for the search industry to get ahead of the curve.

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