28th August 2020

Build or Buy? What’s your Underlying Talent Strategy

“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” Michael Porter

While Talent Management always requires trade-offs, the heart of your strategy must be grounded in either Building Talent or Buying it in. There is no right or wrong or good or bad in this decision. Both paths are equally valid. Both have Pros and Cons. The strategy trap is being caught in the middle and not pursuing either path effectively.

“Strategy is just a fancy word for coming up with a long-term plan and putting it into action.” Ellie Pidot

And in practice no talent strategy is 100% Build or Buy. There is always a dynamic to manage. The table below outlines just a few of the considerations that come into play in making a choice on where to focus.

Managing the Build/Buy Dynamic

Rarely have I seen a situation where doing less than the other guy is a good strategy.” Jimmy Spithill

The key to success in talent management is to choose a strategy, stick to it, ensure that you stay ahead of the game, and that you differentiate your organisation from your competition for talent.

While there is no ‘right or wrong’ strategy, there is good or bad execution of strategy. What’s more, even if your strategy is to build talent, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to recruit well. And vice versa.

Staying ahead of the game also means having the discipline and capability to objectively review your performance and make decisions on how to revitalise your execution.

“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” Winston Churchill

Your underlying Build strategy is effective if can say ‘Yes’ to the following (and “I don’t know’ is a ‘No’)

  • You recruit externally for less than 10% of your senior roles, and
  • Your ‘Promotion and Development Move’ rate is in the range of 15% to 20%, and
  • You allocate more people and financial resource to employee development than recruitment, and
  • Your Succession Plan has a ‘Ready Now’ candidate for every critical role.

Your underlying Buy strategy is effective if can say ‘Yes’ to the following (and “I don’t know’ is a ‘No’)

  • You have pools of great external talent identified and ready to bring in as required, and
  • Recruitment is primarily ‘proactive’, and you hire great people just to get them onboard, and
  • Your managers are all great talent scouts and can ‘sell’ the organisation to recruits, and,
  • Your employment brand is attractive to the best talent.

If you answered ‘No’ to any of the statements related to your talent strategy maybe it is time to pause, take stock and reframe your approach.

“In reality strategy is actually very straightforward. You pick a general direction and implement like hell.” Jack Welch

If you feel your organisation may be in a talent strategy trap and would like to have an open-ended discussion on how you might sharpen your strategy and supporting processes, feel free to get in touch.

Justin Miles

Justin Miles

Manager Partner, Melbourne at Generator Talent
Justin is the Managing Partner of our Melbourne office, an outcome focused leader with a track record of driving business performance through proven talent and organisation development practices. Justin’s methods and skills have been shaped by working with performance oriented leaders in great companies including PepsiCo, The Campbell Soup Company, Diageo, Rip Curl, Fonterra and Wesfarmers, in Australia, the USA and Latin America.
Justin Miles

Categories: Developing Talent Uncategorised

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