10Minutes on rethinking pivotal talent

November 2008
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Rethinking pivotal talent

At a glance

Before reflexively introducing across-the-board headcount reductions, it is useful to first identify your "pivotal talent"— those game-changing employees whose performance can make or break your bottom line.

The global financial crisis has created a fast-emerging set of challenges and opportunities in the talent market.

Before reflexively introducing traditional strategies like across-the-board headcount reductions, companies should first re-evaluate their approach to "pivotal talent"— those game-changing employees whose performance can make or break the bottom line.

Why? Because as market conditions continue to evolve and companies quickly change business objectives—rethinking everything from growth projections to whether a merger or divestiture is necessary—organizations need the right blend of critical skills.

A first step: rejecting four common talent myths that can hold companies back — especially when the going gets rough.


  • Refocusing efforts on pivotal talent — those employees positioned to add the most value and determine the success of a company — can provide a major competitive advantage over the next 18–24 months.
  • Companies are recalibrating objectives to weather the current financial storm and exploit emerging opportunities.
  • An approach to talent management based on rigorous research and measurement can help a company quickly adapt and meet new business objectives.
  • Three out of four CEOs say that a lack of key skills is one of the biggest threats to their business.