How to build an Internal Talent Pool – [8 Ways]

Hiring and retaining top talent has become far more challenging than before, with it ranking second in the risks cited to business based on a recent survey by PWC of business leaders. 

As per a recent survey by Kronos, 87% of Human Resources leaders have Talent Retention as their #1 priority for the next few years.  

Superior talent are 800% more productive than their average counterparts and the average talent exit costs 33% of their annual salary. So, it is really time for companies to get their talent retention strategy on point. Towards that, Internal Talent Pools are a great top talent retention tool, nurturing talent, enabling talent mobility with high performers taking on higher outcome roles or other lateral roles per their aspirations, helping improve their engagement and loyalty. 

Understanding that Internal Talent Pools are imperative to drive the growth of organizations, read on to understand more about how to build and manage them and why they are critical to hold fast to the exceptional talent in the organization. 

What is an internal talent pool?

An internal talent pool is a collective pool of the high performing and high potential employees at an organization, capable, enabled and primed to take up higher value internal positions that become available in the company, in the event of business growth, attrition, retirement or other eventualities. 

Their work data, including but not limited to skills, areas of expertise, leadership skills, with their business and domain knowledge is captured for any current and/or future opportunities. It is used by internal recruiters to map available talent to open positions.   

Talent Pool Vs Talent Pipe-line 

A Talent Pipe-line consists of a line-up of qualified applicants who have been certified or vetted against open positions with the company. This includes all of the fresh applicants, previous applicants, employee referrals, former employees who have been validated against the open positions. 

A Talent pipe-line is a great way to hire for roles that have higher attrition and also seasonal roles that need to hire validated talent quickly. These talent pipe-lines are replenished with candidates from various Talent pools. 

However, a Talent Pool is a collection of all the potential candidates who have demonstrated an interest in the company. It would typically consist of fresh applicants, previous applicants, employee referrals, and former employees. 

A Talent Pool can be divided into different pools on the basis of various factors such as skills, location, experience, qualifications etc. The segmentation of these Talent pools helps engage them appropriately and keep them ready to move into a Talent pipe-line when a business need arises. 

Significance of creating an Internal Talent Pool 

Companies that invest in their people are the ones that demonstrate higher growth and ROI. They acknowledge the importance of keeping their talent engaged and motivated by providing them with learning and innovation opportunities, regular and stretch, that are in alignment with their aspirations and skills. 

The organizations that do not have the right people, trained and groomed to take on key roles often struggle to create innovative and high quality products, losing employee and customer loyalty and patronage

Of the many benefit to creating an Internal Talent Pool, the key are listed below: 

Benefits of internal talent pools
Benefits of internal talent pools

#1 Retain Top Talent    

An internal Talent Pool continues to serve as one of the most effective ways to retain top talent through internal mobility. With higher roles and additional responsibilities, top performers are suitably engaged and motivated to stay on with the company, helping drive growth and value. 

#2 Enables Succession Planning

Succession planning is essential for strategic positions in leadership, domain or technology that are critical to business success or have a high turnover. An internal talent pool enables the creation of a strong pipe-line of potential successors that must be trained and certified to take on the roles in a defined time-line.  

#3 Fire-up your business growth   

With Top Talent taking on key positions, and confirmed productivity boost of over 4X for low complexity tasks to about 8X for tasks requiring data analysis and high level of people interfacing, the impact on business is astounding, with much higher financial returns and quality of business offerings.  

#4 Reduce hiring cost 

With skilled and trained talent available internally with little to no time required to onboard them onto the open positions, the recruitment cost is greatly reduced. Here the external hiring costs of recruitment agencies, advertisement costs and other career platforms are eliminated, helping drive down the cost of hiring significantly. 

#5 Boost Employer Brand  

With the employees engaged meaningfully with higher outcome work and roles in alignment with aspirations, employees satisfaction, productivity and retention is higher. This enhances the Employer Brand, attracting highly qualified talent from outside the organization as well. 

How to create an Internal Talent Pool 

An Internal Talent Pool is pivotal to the success of an organization, supplying it with trained,  groomed and assessed employees to take on critical and strategic roles, enabling greater business outcomes. 

While each organization has a customized strategy to build an Internal Talent Pool, some of the key steps to creating a good one are delineated below: 

#1 Review Business Strategy   

Companies must adopt a flexible and iterative approach to building Internal Talent Pools to keep up with the changing market dynamics and business priorities. Review the business strategy to understand the key objectives and create an approach to develop talent in alignment with company priorities and values.  

#2 Identify Key Competencies    

In alignment with the company vision and values, identify the competencies that are key to attracting new customers, growing in a new location and expanding the existing business. These competencies such as opportunity sensing, solutioning, critical thinking etc. are critical to a successful execution of the business strategy and hence need to be nurtured in the internal talent pool. 

#3 Identify Key Roles   

Review the business growth plan and translate into critical roles and corresponding skills needed to register a strong growth. The high-cost, high-value roles that have a high customer focus and/or a high turnover must be given the top-most priority. Review the time it takes to hire for these key roles, the overall cost involved along with the time it takes to build the internal talent pool to competently take over these roles.  

#4 Evaluate & identify Skill Gaps 

Perform evaluations and related assessments, supplemented by the regular employee performance data, other manager evaluations and interviews, to understand the prominent skill gaps. Regardless of the various evaluation techniques, it is important to ensure that the process is fair and consistent. 

#5 Curate Learning & Development Programs   

Given the criticality and strategic nature of the roles, it is important to have high quality L&D programs curated for the Internal Talent Pool. Depending on the key skill gaps encountered, external or internal training programs can be provided. For these learning programs to be effective and productive, a combination approach of leadership coaching, mentoring and critical feedback must be adopted, enabling the Internal Talent Pool to scale up quickly as per the business needs. 

#6 Incorporate feedback   

Strengthen the Internal Talent Pool strategy through frequent and consistent feedback collection from the employees and other stakeholders all through the various stages. Review the feedback objectively with the right context to ensure the right corrective actions are taken to help build a robust Internal Talent Pool program. 

How to maintain an Internal Talent Pool 

In order for a company to utilize the full spectrum of benefits from an Internal Talent Pool, it must invest in not just creation but maintenance of it as well. The various ways to get the best out of the Internal Talent Pool are given below:

#1 Who’s who in the Internal Talent Pool  

Have a very thorough understanding of the talent in the Internal Talent Pool, with their key competencies, academic & business qualifications, skills, leadership abilities, potential to succeed in any environment with skill gaps for potential roles. This helps plan, train and map them effectively against upcoming roles. The critical skills (technology, business or tool) that are essential to business growth but not available in the Internal Talent Pool must be highlighted for external recruitment at the earliest. 

#2 Consider resigned employees   

Exit interviews must be conducted for the resigned employees to understand the underlying reason for their leaving. If it can be addressed through internal talent mobility in the near future, they must be considered as part of the Internal Talent Pool and their employment and skills data tracked for mapping to a potential role at the earliest opportunity. 

#3 Keep skill tracker up to date    

Most large organizations and Enterprises rely on a workforce management system to manage the essential employee data. SMBs and start-ups may utilize trackers or simpler systems to track the employee data. Regardless of the system followed, there must be an organized way to update, track and manage this critical information without any errors in order to map to potential opportunities effectively. 

#4 Help Upskill Talent Pool   

Based on the fast changing technology landscape, progressive L&D programs must be devised, with on-the-job training and special projects complementing the traditional training programs. The talent must be prepared for taking on greater responsibilities and new challenges that come their way. 

#5 Engage Talent Pool for learning & innovation

Engage the Internal Talent Pool effectively by leveraging them for higher outcome work in short bursts, such as innovation pods and labs, in conjunction with a larger business project, reducing their learning curve drastically. This also provides an opportunity to observe their core competencies in a safe and closed environment, helping clear feedback, faster correction and thereby better performance on real-time projects

#6 Run Coaching & Mentoring Programs 

In order to develop the core competencies for the leadership role incumbents in the Internal Talent Pool, run coaching and mentoring programs by the leadership. Their honest and productive feedback can help influence and change employee behavior, helping improve their performance. Mentors can help mold key leadership traits, helping them navigate client relationships with ease.   

Wrapping Up

Today, 70% Talent Acquisition & HR Leaders are struggling to retain their Top Talent. With the fast depleting skilled labor pool and the growing complexity of work, it has become extremely important to hold on to the high performing talent. 

In this fierce competition to attract and retain top talent, Internal Talent Pools are invaluable in investing in and building talent, who are the future of the organization, engaging them meaningfully. 

The focused upskilling and grooming also enables a better utilization of their skills providing greater value to the customers, giving the companies a competitive edge. 

FAQs on Internal Talent Pools 

How do you build an internal talent pool?

An internal talent pool is a collective pool of all the employees at an organization, capable and enabled to take up any internal positions available throughout the company. Their key work data such as skills, experience, expertise, area of specialization etc are considered to map them to available positions in the organization. Key steps to build an internal talent pool are given below: 
1. Review Business Strategy to understand priorities and hiring projections   
2. Define key competencies  
3. Identify roles that are key to business growth  
4. Evaluate & identify skill gaps 
5. Curate Learning & Development programs 
6. Incorporate employee and stakeholder feedback to evolve a robust process 

What is the difference between talent pool and talent pipeline?

A Talent Pipe-line consists of a line-up of qualified applicants who have been certified or vetted against open positions with the company. However, a Talent Pool is a collection of all the potential candidates who have demonstrated an interest in the company. These would typically consist of fresh applicants, previous applicants, employee referrals, and former employees, with the ones for Talent Pipe-line already validated and the ones for Talent Pool only collected so far. 

How do you promote internal talent?

All organizations follow different processes to promote their internal talent. However, majority of them follow a similar strategy for promotion of internal talent:
1. Identify strategic positions that have a high attrition or business criticality
2. Identify the success criteria for these roles along with the must-have leadership, business and people skills
3. Make an internal talent pipe-line of people with matching, validated skills 
4. Provide skill and competency trainings programs to help improve skill match 
5 .Evaluate the incumbents after the training 
6. Groom the cleared candidates with timelines and milestones
7. As the strategic positions become available, have a panel interview and promote the best fit to them 

How are recruitment teams structured?

The key roles in the recruitment teams are as follows 

1. Recruiter  
2. Sourcer 
3. Recruitment Manager 
4. Hiring manager 
5. Recruitment coordinator
6. Recruitment Operations Team 
7. Recruitment Marketing Manager   
8. CEO 

What is internal talent mobility?

Internal talent mobility refers to the movement of employees from one role to another in the same organization, either as a promotion or as a part of changing their stream of work i.e. from quality assurance to development or from business delivery to marketing. It serves as a great tool for retention of top talent, enabling them to take on higher roles in line with their skills, competence and aspirations. 

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