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Talent development is a unique business process that benefits both employees and organizations. By fueling employee growth and organizational success, it’s a true win-win proposition. Exceptional talent development programs don’t develop overnight, but with a focus on defined goals and strong two-way communication, they’re within the reach of every company.
What is talent development?
Talent development encompasses all of your company’s activities and initiatives that support employee learning and growth. Successful talent development involves processes and programs that are tailored to match organizational needs together with team members’ goals and interests. It goes beyond setting up a training program or two. Talent development means that every employee at your company has a clear pathway to expanding their skillset, advancing within the organization, and achieving their professional ambitions.
Talent development also requires leaders and HR professionals with the soft skills necessary for recognizing and developing the potential of each employee. It’s a key part of a modern employee value proposition, demonstrating that your company views each team member as an individual and is truly invested in their success.
Why talent development matters
Talent development should be a big part of every company’s business strategy. Here are four ways you can transform your organization by developing in-house talent.
Increasing employee retention
With the Great Resignation making competition for talent fiercer than ever before, improving employee retention is top of mind for organizations across industries. Thankfully, prioritizing talent development can help. Job seekers said that identifying opportunities for promotion and growth was the top reason they planned to job hunt in 2022. A talent development program can provide those opportunities and entice team members to stay.
Boosting employee and business performance
It’s a simple proposition: empower employees with everything they need to succeed, and reap the rewards. Employees can’t perform well if they don’t have the skills and knowledge required to succeed in their role. When training resources and opportunities for further growth are available, team members are more likely to accomplish or even exceed organizational objectives.
Improving your succession planning
Your company’s most experienced team members have compiled specialized, invaluable knowledge that’s a critical part of organizational success. When these roles are vacated, succession planning offers a formal structure for transferring this knowledge. Everyone sees retirements and other forms of leader turnover, but only 35% of organizations have a formalized succession planning process.
Don’t risk losing the know-how that keeps your business running. A talent development program tackles succession planning issues by collecting and analyzing data to identify employees that are ready to take on advanced roles and ensuring knowledge makes its way from one set of team members to the next.
Recognizing the relationship between feedback and performance
All team members want feedback, but few organizations provide it in ways employees find meaningful. Only around one-quarter of workers say the feedback they’re given improves their work. A strong talent development program with a focus on coaching is part of the transition to effective, dynamic performance management, where open, continuous feedback flows between managers and employees. This gives all parties the information they need to improve on their weaknesses and further develop their strengths.
Talent development challenges
Investing in talent development is a worthwhile endeavor, but it’s not without its challenges. Here are a few potential issues that organizations may encounter when creating a talent development program and how your company can address them.
Does your talent development program align with your organizational needs?
If your company’s talent development plans fail to meet its needs, you’ll be left scrambling to fill the gaps. Is your business providing sales training courses when it really needs more field repair technicians? Or is it prioritizing enhanced customer service without anticipating the need to keep upskilling its software development team? A talent development program must develop the talent required for organizational success today and in the coming years.
Is your program personalized?
All employees are different, from the skills they bring to your company to their preferred learning styles. A talent development program that treats employees as identical, interchangeable assets is doomed to fail. Personalize your talent development offerings to match team members’ needs, goals, and abilities. If you’re not sure where to start, reach out to employees with an easy-to-answer pulse survey.
Is your program easy to access and administer?
Hybrid and remote work is becoming the new norm at many organizations, bringing with it new ways to achieve organizational priorities across the board, from engaging employees to developing talent. If employees can’t access your company’s talent development resources whenever and wherever they choose, they’re less likely to take advantage of them.
Look for a digital learning solution that makes both completing and managing your training materials simple and stress free. That means guiding users along each step of the learning path, streamlining administration, and a mobile-first design philosophy. Pair this learning platform with remote-friendly, centralized solutions for recognizing and taking the pulse of learners, and your organization will be well on its way to building an impactful talent development program.
The role of a talent development manager
A talent development manager is the HR professional who oversees your company’s talent development program. Their goal is to help team members grow in ways that improve your organizational culture, contribute to both personal and organizational success, and boost employee retention. Specific responsibilities include assessing and prioritizing your company’s needs, determining the ability of current team members to meet them, and developing training programs that can help to fill any gaps. Talent development managers partner with leaders in HR and throughout the organization on projects ranging from recruitment to performance improvement.
Qualifications for this position include education or experience related to human resources, organizational development, or business. Strong skills in communication, problem solving, and data analysis are also useful. And talent development managers should feel comfortable completing leadership tasks like developing learning activities, instructing team members, and providing encouragement and motivation.
6 actionable talent development strategies
Ready to improve talent development at your organization? Take a look at these six strategies for building a results-driven program that fits your business and its employees.
1. Identify existing skill gaps and how to fill them
Consider your company’s immediate needs and long-term objectives. What roles and skills does it need to achieve them? Does it currently have enough team members for those roles, and do they have the right experience? If not, you’ve just identified a skills gap. When it comes to filling skill gaps, recruitment is an obvious choice, but it’s also important to look within your own team. With additional education, they can meet the challenge while bringing institutional knowledge and engagement that external candidates may lack.
Upskilling, reskilling, and cross-skilling are three great strategies for addressing skill gaps:
- Upskilling involves providing an employee with more advanced skills within their role or area through additional education and training.
- Reskilling instead helps an employee learn the new skills needed to be successful in an entirely different role.
- Cross-skilling gives employees the training they need to perform multiple job functions at your company.
Using these and other training methods in tandem will help your organization build a stronger workforce that can meet the challenge of an evolving business environment.
2. Recognize employees who grow and meet their talent development goals
When you’re lucky enough to have team members that are excited about learning new skills and growing at your company, make sure they receive plenty of recognition. Recognizing positive actions like these makes it more likely that employees will repeat them. While big milestones like receiving a new certification or completing a lengthy training program should be rewarded, don’t stop there. Showing appreciation frequently is a key part of boosting the impact of recognition. People recognized weekly are over 5 times as likely as those never recognized to say they rarely think about looking for a job elsewhere — and almost twice as likely as the average among all respondents.
3. Solicit and implement feedback on your talent development program
Your leadership and HR teams have created talent development initiatives they’re proud of — and that’s great! But what do the team members actually participating in the program think? Communication between team members and leadership is critical, and how your organization facilitates that communication is just as important. Employees are more likely to be honest when they can provide feedback anonymously in surveys than when discussing things directly with a leader. If you don’t get honest feedback, you won’t know what the consensus is on your talent development program. Look for an employee engagement platform that provides anonymous, always-on feedback channels team members can use from anywhere.
After receiving and analyzing team members’ input, act on it quickly to show your employees that their voices matter. Adjusting your company’s talent development program as a result of feedback is essential if you want to reap its benefits. Ninety percent of employees say they are more likely to stay at a company that requests and acts on feedback. Prioritize any issues identified by their potential impact on your team and organization. Team members appreciate even incremental changes when they’re deployed in tangible ways that demonstrate your company truly values employees’ perspectives.
4. Train managers to coach rather than micromanage
Micromanagers supervise their team excessively, watching and often criticizing them as they perform routine tasks. They don’t teach team members to work independently, leading to feelings of stress, a lack of confidence, and low morale. Micromanagers may be able to deliver short-term results, but over time this approach limits productivity for both employees and managers.
On the other hand, leaders who see themselves as coaches help team members achieve their personal goals through collaboration and mutual trust. Coaching helps both team members and their leaders develop the skills they need to improve their performance. It leads to a better culture, stress reduction, and stronger relationships. Leaders who coach have a deep understanding of their team members’ individual experience, skills, and goals, and these insights can help inform your talent development plan in both large and small ways.
5. Adopt a learning management system
Tying all your talent development efforts together is much easier with a centralized solution like a learning management system. These platforms offer HR and leaders the ability to easily administer personalized programs and see at a glance how team members are progressing. An LMS makes things equally easy for learners, giving them the flexibility to engage with materials when and where they prefer. They’re also compatible with a wide array of online courses, saving your organization the time and money of hiring external instructors or crafting training programs from scratch.
6. Build development into every part of the employee lifecycle
The employee life cycle reflects the stages that individuals move through during their time with your company. Its six steps — attraction, recruitment, onboarding, retention, development, and separation — map out the employee journey. HR professionals, managers, and other leaders at your company can use this framework as a guide to engaging employees and maximizing their performance during their entire career.
Development is a key component of the employee lifecycle, taking both employees and organizations to new, exciting places. But it should be a part of every step employees take at your organization. A reputation for talent development is a great aid when attempting to attract and retain the best talent, and developing new employees should be a primary goal of the onboarding process. And if a team member chooses to eventually move on from your company, they’ll be much more likely to act as an advocate for your organization if it was a place of growth for them.
Give talent development a boost with Achievers
If you understand the far-reaching value of a strong talent development program and are ready to put one into action, it’s time to consider the tools that can help make it happen. The Achievers Experience Platform, in the form of Achievers Recognize and Achievers Listen, makes it easy to gather, analyze, and act on feedback while recognizing and rewarding employees as they grow with your company.