Critical Talent Segmentation Methodology Toolkit

The Australian & New Zealand arm of a global resources company was determined to  better leverage talent management as a key business enabler. A key step in achieving this outcome was to pinpoint critical talent segments and address ‘hotspot’ issues created by a mismatch between demand and supply.


This organisation realised that while the output of all jobs is important, certain groups of ‘like’ roles (what they describe as talent segments) have a greater impact on value creation and directly drive business results. Importantly, these roles are not confined to senior leadership positions, which tend to be the typical focus of many talent management initiatives.

Curve Group were engaged to develop a critical talent segmentation methodology and toolkit to assist HR Business Partners with supporting business leaders to identify talent segments critical to implementing their business unit’s strategy.


Drawing from best practice strategic workforce planning methodology and our significant talent management experience (check out other talent management case studies here and here), we developed a four step process to facilitate the identification of critical talent segments and ‘hotspot’ areas where a mismatch between demand and supply exists.

The four steps outlined in the toolkit are:

  1. Identify talent segments critical to business strategy execution
  2. Understand demand for talent within these segments
  3. Pinpoint supply hotspots
  4. Determine actions to address hotspot areas.

For step 1 –  identify critical talent segments – we compiled a checklist to help HR BPs analyse their business unit’s strategy as well as an interview guide to support conversations with senior leaders. The purpose of both tools is to determine the people needs and implications of the business strategy and to test initial hypotheses regarding these through an environmental scan and consideration of current business performance. A ‘Critical Talent Segment ID Worksheet’ was created to capture the output of this step: the grouping of like roles representing critical talent needs together to form a target segment.

For Step 2 – determine demand for talent within critical segments – we designed a series of tools, including a ‘Demand Planner,’  to assist HR BPs to identify key strategic activities taking place within their business unit over the next 1 – 3 years that may impact whether demand goes up, down or remains stable for particular talent segments. This tool acknowledges that while it’s easy to assume that demand for talent within critical segments will be universally high, it is important to consider the influence of activities such as mergers, acquisitions or divestments, competitor activity, capital expenditure, business process re-engineering, the introduction of  new technology or systems, or pending legislation, to gain a more nuanced appreciation of demand levels.

In Step 3 – pinpoint supply hotspots – resources were created (for example a  ‘Workforce Data Menu’ and ‘Summary of Business Impact Warning Signs’) to enable HR BPs to identify supply issues regarding the availability, capability and productivity of talent within critical segments. To finalise the hotspot analysis the toolkit contained at risk assessment in order to prioritise hotspot areas warranting immediate action.

The final section of the toolkit (Step 4) provided guidance on determining the most appropriate talent strategy(ies) for closing the gap between demand and supply for each critical talent segment. A ‘Hotspot Action Matrix’ leveraging Dave Ulrich’s 6Bs Model (‘build’, ‘buy’, ‘borrow’, ‘bound’, ‘bounce’ or ‘bind’) was developed to assist with the selection of  the most appropriate strategy for each hotspot scenario. This matrix details specific actions for each ‘B’ mapped to the top eight talent issues typically encountered by this organisation. The purpose of this tool is to kick start action planning through the provision of tangible ideas that can be implemented to address priority hotspots.


A significant benefit of adopting a talent segmentation approach is that the organisation’s risk of overstaffing, understaffing or having an inappropriate mix of the skills needed to achieve its business goals is minimised. While it is early days in the implementation of the Critical Talent Segmentation Methodology Toolkit, the following represents initial feedback from the Talent & Organisational Development Manager:

“I am confident that our business will gain great value from using and leveraging this work.  I am most appreciative of all the customisation and ‘thinking’ involved in pulling this together for our purposes. It contains such valuable suggested approaches, prompts and templates. It exceeds my expectations.”

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