Nurturing Talent from Within – Building a Strong Internal Candidate Pipeline

Hiring great talent can be a daunting task. Recruiting for evolving roles, skill sets, and projects is complicated! True that – even before the many changes that have impacted on the workforce post-Covid. There are ways to alleviate this stress and expedite talent acquisition. One often underutilized hiring method is to nurture talent within the organization, vaulting employees into high-need jobs and leadership roles.

What Does Career Development Look Like?

Many companies encourage their employees to “own their future” job growth, while leaving the heavy lifting of career growth to individual supervisors. Allowing an employee to develop his/her career path on their own, how they see fit, seems like an empowering idea. However, young people entering the workforce want guidance in career development in the form of resources and opportunities, as stated by Abbie Lundberg and George Westerman in their article, “Why Companies Should Help Every Employee Chart a Career Path.”

Managers are just one important prong of the well-developed, multiheaded career growth operation. Depending on management alone to develop internal talent can lead to issues such as favoritism, hoarding of talent, and employees looking outside of the company for career growth.

The Career Development Triad

Instituting the Career Development Triad, as described by Lundberg and Westerman, is one successful way to keep talent within the company (81). The triad consists of three parts: “make opportunities and pathways visible; provide opportunities to learn and practice; and deliver rich feedback and coaching to employees” (Lundberg & Westerman 81).  

Making Career Pathways Visible

A recent study by McKinsey & Company and Cara Plus highlighted the “awareness gap” when 67% of frontline healthcare employees said they are unaware of how to advance in their organization.  Only 14% reported have a written career path available. 

If you want to get more team members interested in high-need roles, it’s no longer enough to create an internal job posting that simply lists the needed skills and qualifications. Preparing employees by asking them to participate in workforce development projects can build awareness of what these roles are and create visible pathways to future success through career planning and the practice of new skills.

Provide Opportunities to Learn and Practice

The second objective of the triad is to “provide opportunities to learn and practice” (Lundberg & Westerman 81). By providing the space to learn new skills and practice retained ones, an organization empowers itself and its employees. Many employees need to learn new skills that are required for a potential role. Healthcare organizations can boost employees’ skills through workforce development programs such as CLiMB™. CLiMB™ is an on-demand library of brief and focused educational sessions that provide actionable training for employees. The CLiMB™ library focuses on themes such as effective communication, building strong work relationships, and how to handle workplace stress. The progress and performance improvements that can be made by such programs are incredibly beneficial for all parties involved. But the benefits only reach their full potential with the proper feedback.

Deliver Rich Feedback and Coaching

 The third, and arguably most important, part of the development triad is to “deliver rich feedback and coaching” to employees (Lundberg & Westerman 83). If you ask the youngest, newest employee at almost any company, they will more than likely say that they highly value detailed feedback and coaching. Of course, this can also be true for all employees. The value of practicing new skills and learning from mistakes can be hindered by a lack of detailed feedback and coaching. For an employee to learn from their mistakes, they must first know what they did wrong and what they did well. Then they can begin building their new skillset by gaining insight from coaching. Effective coaching and well-rounded feedback set the foundation of a successful support structure that further enriches the internal talent pool of a company.

Building with Internal Career Development Programs

Internal career development programs are a win-win, for employers and employees. Career development plans typically help participants identify career paths aligned with personal skills and interests. These interests and skills are then applied to a job search, from which participants pick their desired role. Participants then decide whether the selected job is the proper fit for them or not. Once they have decided upon their prospective role, the participant plans their next move by identifying obstacles and creating a plan to accomplish their desired career move.  

Building a strong internal candidate and talent pipeline is not a simple task. There are many moving parts, people to consider, and processes to practice, but in the end, it is more than worth it. By developing talent internally, an organization can save time and money by eliminating or shrinking the recruiting process for certain roles. At the same time, current employees will be happier and feeling more fulfilled to be invested in by their organization. Developing an internal talent pipeline that offers opportunities for growth and resources for employees helps to ensure that talent stays within the company. 

Lundberg, Abbie. Westerman, George. “Why Companies Should Help Every Employee Chart a Career Path.” MITSloan Management Review, vol. 64, no.3, Spring 2023, pp. 79-84.

Bhaskaran, Swathi. Davis, Andrew.  Et. All. “Bridging the advancement gap: What frontline employees want – and what employers think they want.” McKinsey & Company, July 2022.

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