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The Great Integration

The importance of linking talent acquisition and sucesssion planning is clearer than ever.

By Madeline Laurano
Despite the recent momentum around integrated talent management, many organizations still conduct disparate talent processes. Given the shortage of critical skills, today’s organizations must break down these silos and strengthen the link between pre- and post-hire initiatives.
Aberdeen’s 2012 Integrated HCM: Visibility, Readiness and Results report found that organizations that integrate talent processes greatly improve business outcomes such as customer retention, satisfaction, and overall revenue. Clearly, integration is becoming a business priority. As leading organizations evaluate integrated talent management, they find a natural synergy between talent acquisition and succession planning. When aligned, these processes can help organizations improve organizational growth and readiness through a unified talent pipeline that meets both current and future talent needs.
Although the connection might seem inherent, organizations still struggle to break down the barriers between succession planning and talent acquisition. In fact, only 42 percent of organizations are building and developing a unified talent pipeline of both internal and external candidates. One reason is that these processes operate under different ownership, with recruiters owning talent acquisition and HR or organizational development (OD) professionals owning succession. Historically, the relationship between recruiters and HR professionals has been characterized as contentious, while the relationship with OD professionals is often non-existent. A second reason for this disconnect is that organizations lack a framework and model to build an integrated strategy.
In order for succession planning and talent acquisition to align, organizations might want to consider the following strategies and recommendations:

Strategies for Success
Defining core competencies. Competencies are often considered the backbone of any successful talent management strategy. When used consistently throughout the employee lifecycle, organizations have a way to determine if they have a skill gap that needs to be addressed. They can also recruit, develop, reward, and retain employees based on a standard set of guidelines. When assessing both internal and external talent, organizations that leverage the same set of competencies are at a clear advantage. Fully 83 percent of leading organizations define their competencies at the start of the hiring process.
Automating the process. Given the shortage of key skills and pressures to meet
organizational growth objectives, it is not surprising that talent acquisition remains the top priority for human capital management (HCM) technology investments in 2013. As the talent acquisition market continues to evolve, organizations are looking to replace outdated systems with more innovative solutions that can effectively source, recruit, and onboard top talent. Yet, only 24 percent of organizations place succession planning as their top technology investment, behind areas such as performance management, learning management, and workforce planning. As organizations make decisions around succession planning tools, they should consider how these tools can integrate with existing recruiting solutions, such as access to organizational charts for recruiters during the hiring process or leveraging a consistent set of competencies through recruitment and succession tools.
Creating stronger communication. Communication is arguably the most critical component when aligning succession planning and talent acquisition. To make the most of these processes, talent and business leaders must work together to achieve shared objectives. Collaborating can begin by setting a roadmap, understanding integration points, and developing a plan to communicate and share data on a regular basis. Yet few organizations are able to execute a plan to communicate critical information. For example, only 26 percent of leading organizations leverage assessment data used in the recruitment process in other areas of employee development.
Recommended Actions
Identify critical roles. In any organization, certain roles are critical for driving revenue, performance, and client outcomes. Although these roles have an immediate impact on achieving higher levels of business performance, organizations often feel challenged when matching internal and external candidates’ strengths to these roles.
Define high potentials. Just as organizations need to define critical roles, they must also identify the employees most likely to drive organizational performance and growth. By defining high potential employees, organizations will not only improve succession planning efforts but can also provide talent acquisition with a powerful tool to determine the best fit. If recruiters have visibility into the characteristics, skills, and behaviors for high potential employees, they can make better hiring decisions.

Provide managers with data. Providing the right access to critical data can make or break any integrated talent management strategy. Currently, only 25 percent of organizations make relevant HCM data available to the necessary stakeholders across the organization. As organizations integrate succession planning and talent acquisition, they must find a consistent and meaningful process to make sure that this data is available to managers in a way that they can execute on it. If managers do not have the information they need on candidates, employees, and new hires, it becomes very difficult to execute on any talent management strategy.

Madeline Laurano is Aberdeen Group’s research director for talent acquisition solutions. She can be reached at

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