Navigating Talent Gaps: How to Take Action

Written by: Rainee Busby
16 Feb 2015

As they say, not all gaps are created equal. Recently, on one of our radio programs, we reviewed what Talent Gaps are and how to identify them for your organization or business. Overall, talent gaps occur when you have the wrong people in your strategic or critical jobs; find out more on how to identify talent gaps here.

But what do we do with the Talent gaps now that we have them identified?

Your objective is to align your people behind the business. Don’t forget – your people are your most valuable asset. Fully utilizing them and enabling them to perform at a high level is your ultimate goal.

The hard part now is taking the talent gaps we found and figuring out how to achieve the ultimate alignment. This, in turn, will improve performance and drive business success. Tip: remember evolution, not revolution. It’s okay to take this one step at a time.

Now that you have a list of jobs and a list of people, it is time to put them all into a useable document. The best tool we have found is the classic Excel. Although spreadsheets can be tricky, they work just fine for this step in the process.

Organize Your Talent Strategy Types.

The goal of creating and identifying your talent gaps is to place the right people in the most important jobs. Previously we created lists and coded all of our jobs and people so we could match the right job with the right type of person based on these types. Feel free to review the jobs and people codes here.

Now, we need to take it one step further and put this into action. Start by using colored flags to identify which jobs you need to take action on.

Red, for example, will need to be dealt with right away. Your red list should include the following:

  • Move/exit (typically a low performer) in a strategic, core role or support role
  • Successful career level in a strategic role (recommended upgrading especially is you have challenges executing strategy)
  • Hi potential in a surplus role (under-utilized)
  • Hi performer in a surplus role (under-utilized)

The next color is Yellow. Your yellow flags will be thos people or positions that you will need to watch closely and be ready to act. Included in this category are:

  • Successful career level in a strategic or core role
  • Hi potential in a support role (potential for under-utilization)
  • Hi performer in a support role (potential for under-utilization)

Finally you have your Green category. Those in your green section are already in alignment with the right positions.

  • Strategic and Core roles with high performing or high potential talent
  • Successful career level people in support or surplus roles

You have an aligned workforce when you have mostly green with a few yellows. Yellow may be aligned but will need to be monitored and upgraded if the person performing the role is not effective. Here are some best practice metrics to also consider:

  • Strategic roles are filled mostly with hi performing and hi potential people (75%+)
  • Core roles are filled with a nice mix of hi-performing, hi-potential and successful career level (~33% each)
  • Support roles are filled with a higher % of successful career level with about 20-25% filled by hi-performing and hi-potentials

At this point we should be trying to eliminate our surplus jobs by engaging a 3rd party provider and our move/exit people are in the right job or they are no longer with the company

Take Action where you see your Talent Gaps

There are lots of ways to deal with the red and yellow flags. As we mentioned, we have to address the red flags first. You have two options, move people laterally within the company to find a good fit, or move people out of the organization.

If you are looking at moving people within your organization, it is important you know what they are skilled at and enjoy doing. We don’t want to move a problem around but rather find the perfect fit to promote passion and a high level of performance.

If you choose to move people out of the organization, it is important you have the reasons clearly documented to ensure you are compliant and justified in your actions. Spend some time clearly defining with that employee what their goals, metrics, and expectations are through a performance improvement plan. We recommend a clear timeline to improve performance, which is typically a 30, 60, and 90 day window. If this does not give you the results you are looking for, it is time to dismiss them. Tip: Throughout this process ensure you are documenting everything and meeting with the employee to ensure you are supporting them as they try to improve and become a key player in your organization.


Evaluate your Leaders Talent Gaps

Remember your leaders are the face of your organization to your employees. It is just as important to evaluate them as it is to evaluate the rest of your organization, if not more so. Look at how many red flags are in their department? Are they being effective leaders? What kind of relationships do they have with their people?

Answer these questions and hold them accountable to their gaps. At times, this may require a move/exit for one of your leaders, and that is okay. Keep in mind this whole process is to ensure your business is moving forward.

Know What Type of Talent You are Looking For

You are essentially upgrading your company. Know what kind of Competencies, Strengths, Skills, and Experience you want to bring in to compliment your team and take action to find people that match tat profile.

Bringing the right people in may take some time, and after a few months you may see some red flags come up again. All of this is part of the process. The good part is you have a solid foundation now to build on. Keep the data live and updated. People change quickly based on life events, experiences and just overall need a real change which includes their job.

Sometimes this process may be a little time consuming at first, but it is amazing what kind of difference it can truly make. Your leaders will be more talent minded since they will need to justify to their peers why they feel one of their employees is a high performer. By default they will become better leaders or maybe they need to red flagged as well.

Click here for our next show about retaining talent – keeping your best people. Now that you know you have the right people in the right jobs, what can you do to keep them there? Learn More



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