ILM Research Reinforces Importance of Having a Talent Pipeline

How Effective is Your Talent Pipeline?

Only 18% of employers expect candidates to have received management training prior to being appointed to a management position!

To complete successfully on the global stage UK plc needs a steady stream of management talent capable of delivering strong economic growth. Creating business leaders and managers should be a top priority for UK business and requires a fully functioning management talent pipeline.

These are the findings of a recently published report by the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM). They set out to understand the state of the UK’s management pipeline and where it could be improved. An independent report was commissioned with 750 UK organisations across the public and private sectors to identify the challenges they face in recruiting and developing skilled leaders and managers.

By talent-pipeline they mean a joined-up approach to leadership development that enables a flow of skilled and capable individuals through an organisation. A talent-plan meanwhile is the means by which a talent pipeline is implemented and defines the skills and knowledge required to ensure the future needs of a business are met.

Pipeline Deficiencies

Most organisations lack a functional talent pipeline with many having no talent plan at all. In fact 93% of respondents expressed concern that low levels of management skills are having a direct impact on their business achieving its goals.

Reliance of External Recruitment

UK organisations are heavily reliant on external recruitment for management vacancies, especially at senior level. This is driven in large part by shortcomings in internal leadership and management development. Only 55% of managerial vacancies are filled internally, with the proportion of these appointments decreasing the higher up you look, going from 61% at front-line management level down to 58% for middle management and to just 50% for senior management.

At the same time almost half, 47%, of employers cite the lack of internal staff capability as the single biggest barrier to ensuring an effective pipeline of leaders and managers.

Recruiting the Wrong Skills

Often first line managers are recruited on the basis of their technical skill and knowledge, but whilst these skills are deemed useful for  junior managers they become less important in senior management, when strategic and financial  skills become crucial. Employers who recruit in this way are likely to end up with teams led by “expert novices” – technical experts with low awareness and poor leadership and management skills

In fact first line managers receive very little training. Only 18% of employers expect candidates to have received management training prior to being appointed to a management position. First line managers are expected to learn on the job creating a sink or swim scenario.

Poor Talent Planning

Only 57% of employers have a plan in place to ensure they have a pool of leaders and managers that are suitably skilled to fill future vacancies.


1.    A talent plan is critical in helping employers match skills development with internal needs

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