Does your company have the talent in place to weather a transition? 

Many acquisitions are taking place in the market today, a change from a few years back when downsizing and restructuring were the dominant trends. While they lie on opposite ends of the spectrum, both types of transactions require organizations to make adjustments to the talent they have on board.

“All companies should maximize the talent they have who are familiar with the organization or have ‘tribal knowledge’ — an understanding of a particular company’s nuances or homegrown processes,” says Tony Nicol, managing partner at Alliance Search Solutions.

“The real focus is to determine which employees align to the values, mission and goals of the organization and put them in the right positions. Depending on the organization, transition and the roles involved, it is likely that external talent will be needed for specific expertise in leading through transitions.”

Smart Business spoke with Nicol about how having the right talent in place will help ensure a successful transition.

What are some common business transitions? 

Companies going through an acquisition, whether planning to acquire or sell; downsizing or restructuring; investing in talent because of increased business or proactive planning; investing in equipment and technology; new product development launches; or the termination of products or services can all require talent adjustments.

What is the consequence of not having the right talent in place for a transition? 

These common transitions are a lot bumpier when a company hasn’t paid close attention to the talent it has at hand. In some cases, initiatives must be rebooted, starting over with new leadership to lead a transformation because staffing wasn’t properly planned out.

Sometimes with mergers, particularly where talent from within is being kept, companies often don’t wait long enough to evaluate an employee before making a cut. That can delay the success of the transition. Patience and planning often leads to a better, quicker transition.

Who is necessary for companies to have on staff as they move through a transition? 

Companies need transformation leaders with experience in implementing change and establishing the right culture, and that involves having a deep understanding of the transition at hand.

Some critical change leaders are CFO, vice president of operations, director of lean/ OPEX, director of six sigma, CIO, etc. It depends on the transition that is occurring as to what types of employees or expertise is needed. The key is that the people leading a transition have the ability to implement, lead and maintain the objectives of the transition.

When does it make the most sense for a business to evaluate its talent? 

Companies should be evaluating their talent continually. Talent development and planning is crucial for stability and growth. Quarterly and annual forecasts should always include a detailed evaluation of the current talent across all levels and departments. There should be proactive planning, and all companies should have some level of internships and development programs to keep a sufficient pipeline of entry-level employees.

How can companies acquire the talent they need to make a successful transition? 

Business relationships with suppliers, customers and industry colleagues are a great place to start. But companies often need more help finding key leaders. A third-party recruiter can search its broad network, sourcing and recruiting the necessary talent from across the globe. These organizations have established relationships with transition leaders and can provide an introduction to talent who bring needed experience.

This type of talent is in demand and it takes a great amount of knowledge and effort to find the right leader for the specific situation. Through a consultative relationship with a third-party recruiter, companies get help making crucial matches.

It is critical to have the right talent on board to lead a company through a transition, whether that means growing or downsizing. Every company will, at some point, deal with one of these situations. It’s important that they go into it with their best foot forward to avoid a costly backstep.

Insights Talent is brought to you by Alliance Solutions Group.