How can I revamp our talent pipeline?

Caroline Mboijana. PHOTO/FILE 

Dear Caroline,

Our organisation went through many changes in the Covid years and continues to do so.  During the peak of Covid, we had many of our managers, good managers fell ill, and some have never been the same since returning to work. We realised the managers we lined up were not ready and noted we did not have enough talent.

My challenge is to re-vamp our talent pipeline. Where do I begin? 


Hello Veronica, if anything, Covid exposed the people’s issues and gaps in business. While it was painful, it allowed many to address the root cause of the problems being covered by a plaster. I hope your managers are recovering and that you continue to support them. The healing process may take a while.

Regarding your leadership issue, pipeline development starts with taking a step back and working with your current leadership to understand the existing business and, more importantly, appreciate where the company is going.

You must understand where the company is going so you can clearly define the skills and attributes that the company needs to have for continuity. The other aspect you’ll need to question is whether the talent you’re looking for can either be developed or needs to be readily available.

Not all talent is readily available and thinking that you can “easily poach” talent is, in my opinion, not sustainable for the business. It would help if you had a clear path of where you are going to the source for the required skill. In the past, many have looked at sourcing talent based on academic talent qualifications, and for some critical business roles, academics are crucial; however, in the last year, it has become apparent that having talent that focuses on academics does not necessarily equate to having the best fi as many such organisations have now opened and recognised that skill could be developed over time.

Your pipeline must be robust and flexible, with a combination of approaches being managed concurrently. If you need technically qualified talent, you can start sourcing from the academic institutions where young professionals can be recruited based on their academic qualifications; however, you’ll need to develop their “soft skills” in-house through coaching and mentoring programs. Another approach may be establishing an internship program that is not focused on academics but rather on interest.

In this approach, you’ll find possible team members willing to learn and develop new skills they currently don’t have.

These two approaches allow you to nurture talent to fit your organisation’s value system and needs. You have an opportunity to develop the right behaviours and attitudes. Indeed, if you have roles that must have readily available talent, then the option to poach is open to you.

However, be aware that poaching is expensive and not sustainable as these groups of people come with their expectations.

Remember, many have already developed an ingrained value system that may not necessarily fit the organisation.

In all of these options, you must be ready to invest in staff development, not necessarily technical growth but the development of behaviours which take time. Behaviour motivates and drives delivery. You must have both the time, money and structures that will give you a return on investment which is tested when changes occur, and your talent is required to step into leadership.

Good luck.

Caroline Mboijana,

Managing Director, The Leadership Team (U)  [email protected]


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