Upgrading talent article, upside to downsizing staff, Organization

I came across an old article (as you do) from McKinsey in December 2008 which recommended ways that “a downturn can give smart companies a chance to upgrade their talent.”  As Jeremy is often reminding me, we usually don’t look back at advice and forecasts and see how accurate they were, but this one is worth a think – how many cases were there in which organizations took up and/or succeeded with this advice?

  • We absolutely saw some organizations be selective about cuts – cutting only in areas which were not critical groups, and where longer term workforce projections showed that cutting would not do long term harm.  BUT, this was only possible where workforce planning systems were already established (because it is those systems which allows that kind of prioritization and modeling)
  • We also saw organizations capitalize on looser talent supply for their pivotal roles – picking up talent that others had let go.  Again, we only saw this where critical and pivotal roles had been defined, and where tight future talent pools had been identified – workforce planning again
  • The use of Talent Management systems seemed to grow, which (hopefully) hinted at organizations focusing on identifying top potential and performance – aka focusing on protecting internal supply (the two above are focused on prioritizing by demand)

How about your organization?  Any signs that your leveraged the downturn to upgrade talent?

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