The War to ‘Develop’ Talent

illustration of businessman in the middle of a tug-o-war
By Greg Longster

2 minutes

These days, keeping hiring pools sufficiently large requires readying internal candidates for consideration.

I bet you’re seeing “the war for talent” everywhere in your reading right now.

That’s because it’s real. 

This fight comes from lots of companies vying for the available talent as Baby Boomers retire from a great number of leadership roles—more roles than the next generation can currently fill. 

Winning the war for talent means getting creative. For example, some companies are hiring back former executives in contract roles. A key for credit unions will be making sure to win a key battlefield: the one to develop talent. 

As an executive recruiter, I’m often involved in succession and leadership development planning. I recommend starting down this road to developing talent by figuring out who on your team has the potential to move up to the next level in leadership. Talk with the people you identify to find out if they aspire to such growth. If they do, create a development plan for each individual on your list. 

Since credit unions are small organizations with plenty for each person to do already, an individual’s development plan might include stretch projects like covering for a leader who’s on leave, taking the lead on a core conversion, or spearheading a new branch opening. Be sure to track your potential leaders’ progress and to stop short of promising “you will be the next COO.” Indeed, best practices suggest that you shouldn’t automatically hire your internal candidates but rather consider them carefully alongside external applicants for an open position. 

Even with your best efforts to broaden your candidate pool, today’s market is so tough that you still might not find a single candidate who optimally fulfills every characteristic you seek. In this case, you might be best off promoting someone you know, who’s already acclimated to your culture and can hit the ground running. 

Maybe in a decade and a half, when the Boomer retirements are largely over, there will be more balance in hiring, and credit unions will feel less pressure about it. But for now, winning the war on talent is critical. And winning the war to develop talent is a key battleground.

Greg Longster is a partner in Leaders International Executive Search, Vancouver, British, Columbia, CUES’ strategic provider of executive recruiting services.

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