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To Talent Pools … and Beyond

Posted by Marcie Van Houten on November 5, 2010

If you’ve not been paying attention to the Succession Management process lately, you may have missed that many leading organizations are addressing their succession planning needs through talent pools.  Many don’t even create individual role based succession plans and rely solely on the talent pools to provide their up-and-coming talent.  So what are talent pools exactly and how do they differ from the more traditional succession plans?

Talent Pools are employees that are grouped together for a common promotion, job or leadership development purpose.  Some of the means of determining talent pool membership includes manager defined, 360 degree feedback and Talent Reviews.  HR typically helps drive leadership development curriculum appropriate for the group to help the talent pool meet the goals management has for it.  Some times the members are told they’re in the pool and other times it is kept more quiet.  Members are developed and if all goes well the talent pool becomes the primary place to source the talent from when the succession need comes up.  Unlike traditional succession plans, talent pools are not necessarily tied to a job or position or incumbent, but rather are a pool that is being developed and groomed for one to many jobs or career paths.

In the Toy Story movies, Buzz Lightyear has a favorite saying “To infinity … and beyond”.  To Buzz, it’s great to have the goal of reaching infinity, but it’s even better to aim for more.  More beyond the thinking of the day.  Talent Pools are a great way to achieve your succession and development needs.  However, there’s the possibility of so much more.  Let’s think beyond the basics here and strive for something more… something truly collaborative.  Let’s provide the talent pool members with tools to become a collaborative community.  Let’s provide them networking opportunities, collaboration spaces, and the ability to develop their community so that not only are they learning from the talent pool curriculum of training, experience and mentoring, they are also learning from each other and supporting each others’ growth.  These relationships they form could really help them become more successful down the road as their talent pool peers get placed into new roles.

While Talent Pool succession planning is a worthy objective, to reach beyond that goal to one where Talent Pools are versatile, collaborative and interactive places for learning, development and networking is truly the goal.  “To Infinity … and beyond”.  I like the way Buzz thinks.

6 Responses to “To Talent Pools … and Beyond”

  1. […] To Talent Pools … and Beyond […]

  2. Meg Bear said

    Great post Marcie and not just b/c you managed to get Buzz into the equation! I love how you are thinking about succession and the network. You know me, I’m all about the team and what better place to focus than your pipeline of future leaders?


  3. Great post. I like the talent community with opportunities and collaboration spaces. This ties closely with the comment I made on the succession planning post by Meg about employees losing confidence in the talent program when it appears isolated from hiring/recruiting decisions. Bringing opportunities and collaboration may be a big step in overcoming the isolation perception.

  4. Networking abilities and building communities is always good. But in a talent pool all people are there for they have the ability to reach a new level. They have not reached it yet. if we somehow can get some participation that already are at that level it would be great.

    Of course we have to do it transparent as there will be really difficult to network if you dont even know you are part of the pool. And if we tell people they are part of the pool we can assign mentors to the pool in an open and public way.

    • Indeed, so much more can be accomplished when talent pools are managed in a transparent way. Your notion of a “group mentoring” of the members of a talent pool is an excellent way to both leverage the mentor’s time (and yes, it can be more than one mentor as well) and to get the members of the talent pool “cross-mentoring” each other. Because even though the members all share a common attribute in being part of that pool, they also all come from different backgrounds, different experiences, and therefore bring new knowledge that they can share with each other. So imagine what can happen when a “group mentor” triggers a discussion, say around an example use case or situation, and opens it up for the members to get some “hands-on” experience in taking it on, putting out ideas, putting together proposals, etc. You may ask, “why would people spend all that effort doing so?” – the answer is that it sends a strong signal how motivated you are to take that next step.

  5. Great post. I was not very familiar with talent pools but it is an interesting new way of handling the succession management process.

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