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4 Ways to Build Your Talent Pipeline

4 Ways to Build Your Talent Pipeline

Mar. 23, 2022

Can you hear it? We certainly can. It’s the constant DING of the phone each time an NFL trade is announced. As loyal Cleveland Browns supporters, the hot topic of trading players is part of our daily conversation as we continue to hold out for the elusive Vince Lombardi Trophy. Wait…you aren’t a football team, and you are not a Browns supporter? No worries! The business concern you share with the Browns is building your talent pipeline with succession planning.

A talent pipeline for succession planning


What is succession planning?

Succession planning focuses on keeping a talented community of individuals in your company. Your teammates actively contribute to the internal processes responsible for producing quality products and services. It is their knowledge of your processes; it is their attitudes that motivate behaviors; it is their unique skillsets that make your team whole. Succession planning harvests these valuable attributes and creates a process.

Ready to get started? Great! There are four critical steps for succession planning.


Step 1: Scope the process.

The most effective plans are processes following specific steps and require 12 or more months of preparation. Using the football theme, a coach can expect optimal results from an NFL football player for about 3.3 years (Statista 2022). A candidate to backfill each position must be identified and vetted at least 1.5 years out to avoid a skill gap on the team. Scouts maintain a roster of potential candidates capable of backfilling positions with hopes of attracting individuals to the team. These steps populate the succession planning process.

Your business requires similar steps that also consider players. To understand the players on your team, start by analyzing growth and turnover metrics. Some questions to help you consider these two factors are below.

    • How quickly is your organization growing?
    • Does growth require more personnel to manage shift work or more technical capabilities for operating technology?
    • How long does it take an individual to learn a unique skill set, gain a credential, or refine a capability?
    • What is your turnover rate?
    • What is the likelihood of losing talent?
    • How effective is your performance management system at identifying employee longevity?

Answers to these questions shape the scope of your succession plan. Specifics processes within the plan lean on Step 2 below.

Step 2: Capture your structure.

Organizational structures have shifted substantially, especially over the past two years, given the necessity for remote, hybrid, and in-person workplaces. Hierarchical, flat, and team-based organizations are just a few types of structures reflecting how you want your company to look and operate.

For ease of discussion, let’s consider the Browns players. The quarterback is known for taking charge on offense. This individual is uniquely responsible for knowing the plays, communicating which play will be run, and then yelling “hike” to activate the process. When transferring this role into a job description, it may look like the image to the right.                             Fotoball quarterback job description

The quarterback’s performance ability reflects the coaching staff and the individual’s understanding of the job. The same is true in business. The organizational structure determines the role of an individual; the individual must understand crucial job skills, required knowledge, and expected outcomes to deliver results. These details are captured in the job description and reviewed during regular performance assessments.

Step 3: Draft the plan.

One inevitable truth is change. Demographic changes, talent scarcity, and skill gaps are among the many drivers of change. If members of your organization know their roles, have relationships within the organizational structure to communicate the impacts of change, and can adapt processes to continue making decisions despite the shift, CAPTURE IT! Document how these processes happen, the frequency of occurrence, and the skills necessary to navigate the change. Use scenarios to consider multiple “if-comes” to discuss concepts with all jobs in the organizational hierarchy.

To create your succession plan, align your organizational chart, job descriptions, and findings from your scenario-based discussions. Capture milestones, timelines, and objectives to develop a process.

Step 4: Be a leader.

Leadership is contagious. Many of us only recognize senior leaders as executives within the organization responsible for making critical decisions and shaping the culture. Look in the mirror! This is you!

As stated at the beginning, each of us contributes to the team. You can embrace these succession planning steps for your organization. Here’s how:

    • Find or create the succession plan. If there isn’t one, assume responsibility and build it. Present the plan to leadership, knowing it takes 12 to 36 months to fully execute a succession planning process.
    • Find or create the organizational chart and job descriptions. Don’t make assumptions. Reach out to your colleagues or experts in the field to generate clear and concise parameters for your teammates. Be sure a performance management system accompanies the organization chart and job descriptions so gaps can be communicated and identified quickly.
    • Publish your plan and practice. Successful teams rehearse ideal outcomes. Put your plan out there and troubleshoot deficiencies. Enhance the contents and repeat.


And, I’ll just leave this here: Browns Backers Worldwide