Building Tomorrow's Workforce: Why You Should Think About Talent The Way You Think About Sales

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Talk to founders of any growing business and you will find one common pain point- lack of access to top talent with the right skill sets. Even the most successful companies in the Middle East are not immune to the region's skills gap, a widening mismatch between the demand for skills, and the supply of talent that has them. This, of course, isn't a problem unique to the region. But with one of the youngest populations in the world, it's more important now than ever that we see significant investments in education and learning to prepare our workforce for tomorrow. But what can business leaders do today to prepare for tomorrow? It starts by rethinking talent management.

Everyone's looking for senior developers, digital marketing managers, and seasoned sales professionals- but where do they all come from? There's a culture of talent poaching that's becoming exponentially more expensive, rather than building sustainable talent structures. 69% of employers say that their inability to attract and retain middle-skills talent frequently affects their company's performance. There's another way to solve that problem.

Using sales strategy for talent management
Sales strategy typically works in funnels, with teams helping prospective clients move across key milestones in a sales process, thereby building a pipeline of revenue based on the likelihood of deals closing. This way we can manage sales processes, predict revenues and make plans for the future. More companies need to start thinking the same way in terms of managing talent and that starts with building talent pipelines. Adopt a funnel approach where revenue is the jobs you're looking to fill, milestones are skills that need to be developed, and leads are potential candidates. Using talent pipelines, companies can solve major challenges for mid-to-senior level requirements by developing junior employees' skills relevant to their business.

Crafting your talent road map
In most companies, revenue targets are typically set on a quarterly or monthly basis, and with younger companies, even weekly, to align the overall company strategy and goals. Yet most companies don't have set plans for talent. Talent projections can be mapped out in a similar way- what should your team look like in 6, 12, 18, months? It's imperative that those plans are aligned with revenue targets, road maps of your products and where you see your competitive advantage materialize.

Building talent pipelines
Start setting up talent funnels with milestones that structure early-stage careers at your company. This starts with building frameworks across your hiring process defined job descriptions, candidate experience, hiring KPIs and insights, career pathways and people analytics. These milestones should be varied depending on the career paths outlined- for a developer, it might look like shipping a product feature end-to-end, for sales, it might be leading new revenue streams, or for marketing, it might be setting up growth engines, and so on.

Predicting leaders and champions
There's no reason to map out milestones if they aren't going to be tracked. Use milestones and the pace in reaching them to identify star performers, similar to using probabilities on deals in your revenue pipelines. Create structured programs that watch your star performers and support them to accelerate their growth, whether it might be for skill or leadership development.

Planning supply based on company goals
Once you've set up talent pipelines and have a reasonable idea on what your team might look like down the line, you can start mapping data points against your talent road maps. Are you on track? Where are you still seeing mismatches between demand and supply of skills needed? How can you pivot your talent pipeline strategy to correct course? It will need the investment of your time to answer these questions to make sure your business is ready for tomorrow.

Making tomorrow easier
Bringing in that early stage talent and developing it actually helps solve another challenge looming over businesses today- employee retention. Studies show talent that have gone through a company's internship program are 34% more likely to stay at the five-year-mark compared to external hires. That means with effective talent pipelines, not only are you developing talent relevant to your business, but are also more likely to retain that talent after those skills are developed. Government and education sector intervention necessary to close in on the skills gap often lags behind, and given the pace of technological innovation rapidly increasing, businesses can no longer afford to rely on market forces for talent, but begin developing the skills needed internally. Or else risk become obsolete, just like the hundreds of jobs at risk.

Related: Infographic: Top Five Ways To Keep Your Team Cool, Calm, And Collected