How Growing Talent From Within Fails

Growing talent from within has become an effective talent acquisition strategy.

Company 1: We have a highly specialized workforce. They have specific knowledge and skills. Finding professionals with that skill set is nearly impossible. Let’s find individuals with high potential and train them to be one of us.

Company 2: Turnover is killing us. Hiring folks without industry knowledge delivers a passionless, disengaged workforce. We can’t find anyone to fill that management position. However, we have plenty people who can do that position. Let’s promote from within.

Both scenarios are perfectly reasonable talent acquisition strategies. Yet, both have a good chance of ultimately failing.

Here’s why:

Company 1 must invest heavily in talent acquisition and employee development. First, they must find the right high potential talent. Behaviors are trainable. Desired attitudes and aptitudes must be found.

Once the Hi-Po’s are in position, development begins. The organization must itemize the skills and knowledge required of the highly specialized workforce. The expertise transfer requires experts, development programs, and teachers. The young workforce must be given opportunities to practice and master the crafts.

Company 1 will fail when:

The leadership team is not experienced enough to pull this complex strategy off.

The highly specialized workforce is not vast enough to support the operational and developmental needs.

The high potentials aren’t vetted for attitudes, mindsets, and aptitudes.

The high potentials don’t possess the passion and fortitude to stick out the mission.

The development tools and teachers are ineffective.

The time and resources required for employee development are not available.

Company 2 must take a long, hard look at why turnover is high. Reevaluating existing organizational structure and workforce is imperative.

Why is the current talent acquisition strategy attracting the wrong candidate? Are the positions we want to fill reasonable and rewarding to sustain good talent? What’s sucking the passion and engagement out of the organization? Are the folks promoted to fill these roles qualified?

Company 2 will fail when:

Systemic organizational issues are overlooked.

The proper employee development tools and teachers aren’t established to support those promoted.

Diversity of thought, perspective, and talent are lost.

Effective talent acquisition strategies and processes aren’t developed.

Individual positions are unrealistic and unachievable.

A corrupt, nepotistic clan culture emerges.

Growing talent from within may breed the next leadership generation. But doing so without sufficient strategy, leadership, and resources sets the organization up for failure.