By Olivia Wynn

Executives around the world all seem to agree: one of the biggest challenges they face is building and sustaining talent pipelines. In a recent survey of 300 companies conducted by Chief Executive magazine, respondents answered “finding the right number of leaders”, as their top challenge.

Human capital is fast replacing financial capital as the engine of economic prosperity. The winners in the race for talent will be those companies that develop global pipelines. Building and maintaining talent pipelines allows you to minimise economic and business risk and gain powerful intelligence to better attract, retain and manage top talent.

Glocal appeal

Many of our clients are growing further and faster into new emerging markets where they encounter a talent squeeze. Local talent can be limited in specialist roles and senior leadership capabilities. Yet the appeal of continuing with a heavily weighted expat talent model has truly lost its appeal.

For example in China where the demand for talent still outweighs the supply, many organisations look to ‘boomerang’ talent, looking to return to China after working and studying in the West. Demand for this talent pool has grown, particularly for specialist roles such as engineers and scientists. This is further exacerbated when coupled with demands for senior leadership capability.

These returnees combine their commitment to their home country, personal initiative, language and cultural understanding and fluency in English, they can therefore be vital in the early phases of localisation, when local leaders are still, in the majority, expats. This is a known phenomenon in many local markets and hence this talent is highly in demand. Companies that engage early with this talent group, sell their employer brand strongly, and maintain strong communication will ultimately be a step ahead of competitors.

Succession not replacement

It is imperative in this talent race to ensure all succession planning is done with the future needs of the business firmly at its core. Building a talent pipeline is not solely about replacing unforeseen talent losses in the short term (0-6 months) but absolutely about building the future talent engine of the business ( 12-24-36 months). The skills of yester-year are not necessarily those required for the future success of organisations. Different skills are needed to meet the changing priorities of businesses.

Strong business buy-in

You may be amazed to know that, from the FTSE 100 companies only 3% of boards HR include representation. As talent pipelines are core to the future success of organisations, it is vital that the business buys-in to the pipeline, and that the leadership team work closely with HR in order to ensure both people and business strategies are fully aligned. Early buy-in from the business is also critical to ensuring the employee value proposition is built homogeneously across the business.

Whether you are building and maintaining a talent pipeline in order to mitigate business risk, increase local leadership with glocal capabilities, reduce cost and time to hire or beat the competition in the race for top talent, you had better do it quickly, as your competitors are already in the race!

About Armstrong Craven

We provide insight, search, pipelining and leadership risk intelligence services to business leaders all over the world. We help organisations to better understand the markets they operate within and the markets they hope to enter. And we provide the people they need to make it work. For more information visit www.armstrongcraven.com