The world is going through unprecedented times, with a tremendous churn in the global economy as well as in the lives of people. Crises necessitate changes in strategy and actions if organizations wish to come out ahead in the post crisis stage. During such times, most leaders and organizations normally go into firefighting and cost conservation mode, cutting budgets down across the board and freezing hiring. But such tough times also create windows of opportunities for organizations to acquire exceptional talent in a strategic manner and seize the advantage. There are a few things organizations could do to create a pipeline of exceptional talent without compromising costs.
A differentiated talent acquisition strategy
It may sound counter-intuitive, but these are times when strategic organizations can get ahead of competition by being more focused and action oriented on key talent acquisition.
From a talent strategy perspective, at any point of time, it is vital for leaders to have a deep understanding of their in-house talent and develop a list of their key 10 to 15 percent roles. These may include leadership or individual contributor roles which would disproportionately impact success of the organization and support strategy execution.
For such roles, talent flow has to be planned constantly and nurtured carefully. The talent pipeline needs to be reviewed closely, as well as assessment of the quality and availability of internal and external talent pools.
During times of crises when budgets are quite limited, it is even more important to not reduce focus on talent acquisition or freeze hiring.
Rather, organizations have to carve out a smaller subset of those key roles to keep pushing forward, especially where talent supply is limited normally. Supply for such talent becomes higher and easier to pursue during such times.
While this approach may sound appealing, without the leadership commitment, sponsorship and resources, such initiative will not work. The core group of leaders like CEO, CFO and CHRO have to work together and approach it the way they approach business and costs targets. Carving out valuable resources for strategic talent acquisition would need to be high on the leadership agenda. The above approach needs to receive constant leadership attention and tracking. HR leaders can play a critical role and take accountability for facilitating this strategic talent acquisition initiative during such times, using internal and external expertise. Some of these searches may even be initiated confidentially.
While organizations may have their distinct areas of differentiation, a couple of common areas that we observe increasing in importance in India for strategic leadership hiring are strategy and digitization.
The main objective for the proposed approach in any organization during times of crises is to be able to grab the talent opportunity and come out ahead of the crowd at the end with a distinct advantage for the future.