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PBM 101: Filling talent gaps to hire for tomorrow instead of today

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PBM 101: Filling talent gaps to hire for tomorrow instead of today

In this Principle Based Management 101 series, we’re unpacking mental models, ideas, and tools you can use to level up your work.

This article was previously published by Stand Together Foundation.


Principle Based Management™ provides a holistic approach to making decisions, solving problems, and creating value for individuals in your community, team members in your organization, and society at large. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​It is rooted in proven principles that have fueled the ongoing success of Stand Together and our partners. In this Principle Based Management 101 series, we’re unpacking mental models, ideas, and tools that you can use to reach the next level in your work.

If your organization is growing, then your need for the right talent might be feeling increasingly urgent. Regardless of what size your organization is, talent is always a concern. Do you have the right people in the right roles to advance your mission? And if there is a talent gap, how do you clearly identify it and then fill it?

Too often, we wait until the need is urgent before we take action, making us reactive rather than proactive. Perhaps we rush to fill the empty spot of a recently departed team member or hurry to increase our head count to serve a successful program, only to realize later we didn’t truly understand the talent gap. Sound familiar? You’re not alone.

In Principle Based Management™ (formerly Market-Based Management®), there are a handful of concepts and tools we consistently rely on to take a principled approach to filling talent gaps.


If you don’t have clear priorities for how you want to grow, then it will be difficult to understand the talent needed to help you accomplish your goals. A lack of clarity around what you are trying to accomplish, and in what order, can cause you to feel like you are constantly in fire-fighting mode. That feeling can make it difficult to hire and select the right talent.

Hiring for tomorrow instead of today puts you in a proactive position. It means clearly recognizing what you are trying to accomplish as you look ahead, setting clear priorities, and letting those priorities surface the gaps in talent.

Will you still come across situations when you need to make immediate decisions on talent? Absolutely! But starting with vision helps you identify talent gaps that lead to growth, instead of only addressing gaps that help maintain the status quo.

Talent assessment

Equipped with a clear vision and priorities, conducting a talent assessment is a powerful strategy. This involves taking a deep dive, person by person, to understand each employee’s gifts, find opportunities for their growth, and even see if you can address talent gaps with existing team members.

Capability gap vs. capacity gap

When you face a capacity constraint, the solution can seem obvious: you need more employees just like those you already have, right? Not necessarily. Equipped with a clear vision and a thoughtful talent assessment, you can start to consider the knowledge and skills you’ll need for the future of your organization. This perspective can help you see capacity gaps as capability gaps. Do you really need more data entry team members? Or might you actually need a data manager to help you innovate for the future that you’re building?

Effective decision-making

We find it helpful to consider a full range of alternatives when deciding on how to best fill a talent gap. We use the “Buy, Borrow, or Build” mental model to help us consider different options. You can buy talent by hiring it, borrow talent by acquiring it through collaboration or partnerships, or build talent it by focusing on the professional development of the staff that you already have. Sometimes it’s a combination of these strategies that can get you where you need to go!

Challenge process

Challenge—continually questioning and brainstorming to find a better way—is the engine that powers all these ideas. Engaging with different perspectives and ideas brings clarity to your vision, guides you to a reality-based perspective on your talent position, and helps you break free from status quo thinking around hiring decisions.

Talent is likely one of your most significant financial investments and one of your most significant constraints to reaching new heights as an organization. Using these mental models, like Capacity vs. Capability, or Buy, Borrow, Build, your team can work together to better define talent gaps and identify creative strategies to fill them.

Learn more about Principle Based Management and how it can help you transform your results.

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