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Future-Proof Your Team: Leverage Internal Talent for Strategic Success

"How can I find the right people to achieve my future goals when external hiring is not an option?"  

This is a question that many organisations are asking themselves as they face their goals for 2024 and try to anticipate and prepare for a changing economic landscape.

At The Chemistry Group, we partner with many leaders who have ambitious strategic goals and believe the only way they can get the right people in place is to hire externally. While the allure of fresh perspectives and innovative ideas is undeniable, external hiring isn't always feasible in today's economic landscape.  

So, what's the answer? How can leaders find the right people who will help them to focus on the future, and deliver long-term value, when they can’t recruit externally? 

When considering internal pools of talent, leaders can tend to fixate on their workforce’s current capability and experiences. While this is a useful exercise, it must be balanced by activities that help to prepare the business for ‘the future of work’.   We believe it's time for companies to focus inward and tap into the wealth of talent already present within their organisations. The Chemistry Group has proven that when leaders are provided the right information about their workforce, they’re able to identify internal individuals who can support in achieving their organisation’s objectives.

In today's rapidly changing landscape, businesses have an unprecedented need for acquiring new skills at an accelerated rate. This demand requires a commitment to assisting their employees in evolving through upskilling and internal career mobility. While in the past companies might have heavily relied on talent acquisition to ‘buy’ the required skills, this strategy alone is no longer sufficient for the current labour market and business environment. 

Therefore, we propose a series of steps to help organisations achieve their future ambitions, with a particular focus on unlocking the full potential of their internal talent. 

1. Anchor talent needs within the company strategy  

Organisations must first review their strategy and pinpoint where critical capabilities and roles are situated. By honing in on these key elements, they can eliminate distractions and zero in on what truly drives value and sustains future performance. Through this process, a client identified several non-negotiable capabilities required to sustain core operations, along with five capabilities that were deemed instrumental in helping develop the workforce of the future.

2. Measure the workforce’s capability against its future requirements and develop learning interventions which focus on closing the gap 

Once these roles and capabilities are clearly defined, the next step involves gathering objective data on the existing workforce, measuring the organisation's current capability against its future requirements. At this point it also important to understand individuals’ natural working preference and motivations. This process helps identify gaps and the specific learning interventions necessary to bridge them. It also provides organisations with the data they need to develop high-performing teams, where individuals complement one another due to high degrees of cognitive diversity.  

Despite sounding complicated, this can be completed relatively easily and at scale. For a recent client, we measured the capability and intrinsic preferences of nearly 350 leaders, developing context-specific interventions.  

3. Ensure that succession planning is completed deeper within the organisation 

Frequently, efforts are concentrated on C-suite succession planning, neglecting the potential of leaders deeper within the organisation. This results in a reactive approach to succession planning and impedes the development of the leadership qualities needed for individuals to ascend to senior roles, therefore perpetuating the dependency on external talent. 

A recent Chemistry client in the petrochemical industry underwent a significant internal restructuring, coinciding with the retirement of several senior leaders in quick succession. Partnering closely with this client, we assisted them to identify latent potential within their organisation by leveraging the capability and psychometric data previously gathered from their people. This proactive approach to succession planning ensured that when organisational changes became necessary, the company had a well-defined roadmap for identifying future leaders, spanning from senior vice president roles down to middle management, encompassing approximately 650 individuals in total. 

So… how is this all turned into action? 

A good starting point is to change our perception of where talent truly resides. Businesses, including Chemistry clients, should focus on improving the effectiveness of their existing workforce by identifying key roles and critical capabilities essential for achieving business objectives. It's crucial to recognise that there is no silver bullet; the key lies in adopting a more strategic mindset to talent management, contextualised within the organisation’s future context. Only through such a strategic perspective can businesses look to meet their growing demands and in doing so reduce their dependency on external hiring. 

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