It is increasingly clear that the need to undertake succession planning and build talent pipelines is now business critical for the healthcare sector. Building bench strength and compiling a talent pipeline are key elements used to future-proof your workforce planning and ensure sustainability for your organisation. More and more, organisations are being asked to produce talent pipelines as a key factor in assessing sustainability. Simply put, if you want to improve services, achieve your performance targets or grow the business, a lack of talent pipeline is the biggest inhibitor of the organisation accomplishing its goals. 

You can’t source the right skills for the future until you understand what your future should look like. Workforce planning must be aligned with the organisation’s strategic plans. It is then you can determine critical roles and distinguish what skills will be needed for the future. This could seem problematic for the health and social care sector given the turbulence and volatility of the sector. However key principles remain at the heart of this and organisations are fundamentally looking for people with the technical capability alongside intellectual flexibility, personal resilience and commitment to the patient at all different levels. Many organisations are putting their values at the heart of their recruitment efforts to identify individuals with these enduring attributes. 

Talent pipelines ensure you are able to deploy the right people, with the right skills and qualities, at the right time and in the right place to deliver your strategy. How the organisation identifies individuals to be on talent pipelines, especially internally must be transparent and seen to be fair. The internal talent pipeline will be supplemented by bringing individuals in from outside where gaps in internal capability have been identified. This talent pipeline must be developed in conjunction with your diversity and inclusion plan and your leadership and management development plans. By considering these essentials, you will build a strong talent pipeline that will discover potential talent, ensure they are deployed properly for the individuals to thrive, therefore reducing risk and enhancing your organisation’s performance capability. 

Key questions for the healthcare sector include:

  • Is it clear what new skills and capabilities will be required for the future? How are these new skills and capabilities determined and understood?
  • How can organisations better anticipate the skills and expertise that they can grow internally versus those skills that they will need to source externally?
  • How can organisations accelerate the opportunities for improved succession planning and talent management through on the job training, mentoring, shadowing and secondment?
  • How can healthcare organisations more clearly demonstrate the cost benefits of long-term talent management in a market which has a shorter term orientation and very tight fiscal restraints?

Building a talent pipeline should be a strategic priority for every senior leader and should be part of every senior leader’s performance review. Only when senior leaders are held accountable, will it be given the attention and support that is required.

Carmel Gibbons

Carmel Gibbons is a London based Partner and Head of the Healthcare practice. She is also a member of the Public Services and Not for Profit practice. Her work focuses mainly on senior appointments...

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