Talent Development: 8 Best Practices for Your Organization

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Talent Development: 8 Best Practices for Your Organization

Any organization that wants to thrive in the new digital economy has the ability to do so by focusing on the most valuable asset it has — its people. Talent development – strategically developing employees’ skills based on organizational objectives – is the foundation of an organization’s sustainability. Ongoing efforts to evaluate skill gaps, provide training programs, and manage succession planning lead to more capable employees and better organizational performance.  How can you facilitate talent development at your organization? Let’s find out.

What is talent development?
Why should your organization prioritize talent development?
How can you improve talent development at your organization?

What is talent development?

Talent development refers to the efforts to build upon employees’ existing skills while identifying new skills and opportunities to help achieve organizational goals. It ensures that an organization remains competitive in the ever-changing global market.

The book Capabilities for Talent Development: Shaping the Future of the Profession by ATD press describes talent development. By focusing on employees, “this fosters learning, employee engagement, talent management and employee development to drive organizational performance, productivity, and results.” It’s not a one-size-fits-all effort, however. Talent management is best handled when individual employees receive guidance and customized career paths that include learning as they advance.

You may have noticed in the above definition that for employees’ training and development to be successful, the talent development strategy must align with corporate objectives and business needs. Otherwise, it doesn’t make much sense to offer training that is out of focus and doesn’t consider the company’s goals over time.

As a rule, employees who are on board with company goals already have long-term career success in mind. They can see where they want to be in the organization in the near future. These workers are willing to stick around if an employer is willing to invest in their career. They also must connect their personal goals to the business goals of their employer.

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As you can see, talent development is not just about the baseline training new employees receive. It’s also not about teaching employees about the company policies to remain compliant.

It’s so much more.

An organization that wants to secure its place in the future understands that employees need structure, support, and encouragement to maintain a high set of skills and knowledge. That’s where a talent development program with a strong basis in company objectives has a better outcome than one that is limited or non-strategic.

Why should your organization prioritize talent development?

If you are concerned with the growing number of skill gaps in your organization or have ongoing issues with employee retention, you may be curious as to what talent development can do to turn things around.

In the post-Covid job market, organizations have stepped up their recruitment efforts to attract the talent displaced from previous employment. There are many talented individuals trying to land great careers while companies are concerned about finding the right people to fill future roles.

While this may seem like the best option for filling your organization with skilled employees, there are problems with this thinking. Miguel Carrasco, Senior Partner at Boston Consulting Group, told ZDNet, “not all of the surplus capacity in the workforce can be redeployed to meet new or growing demand.”

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Hiring whoever is out there looking for a job is not taking into account what the future holds. In contrast, how well you manage your talent development can be the difference between success and failure.

The fact is, while new technology is expected to make many jobs obsolete, it is also creating new types of jobs and demanding new skills at an accelerated rate. According to Boston Consulting Group, tens of thousands of new jobs will be created by 2030. As a result, the need for skilled labor in computer-focused, STEM, healthcare, social services, and education is expected to increase but will suffer the most shortages. Factors outside of technology that continue to create talent shortages include the rapid departure of an aging workforce (retirement), more adults getting retrained or switching careers, and economic factors driving candidates towards higher-paying careers.

You can easily work in talent development strategies with other human resource management tasks. It’s highly beneficial to implement a talent development strategy. Besides the above mentioned, here are some reasons why your organization should prioritize an integrated talent development program:

Future-proofing the organization

Preparing your workforce to face an uncertain future is the number one goal of any talent development program. You can help empower employees to develop their skills and compentecies. In turn, these will help the organization gain a competitive advantage. You are making sure that your workers have the skills and capabilities to help you reach your business goals.

This also takes the pressure off constant recruitment from replacing obsolete or unhappy employees.

Talent Development Goals

Improved employee engagement

When employees are actively engaged in their work, they are happy and productive. Employers can boost engagement by designing a career path for each employee. This path should take into account their skills and interests, then creating a learning program for them to succeed.

Generating new ideas and business opportunities

If you want to increase innovation, take on bigger and better clients, and become more profitable — a talent development program has the ability to support these factors. Employees who are encouraged to learn new things bring their ideas and knowledge to the table. This can identify new sources of income generated from previously undiscovered opportunities and clients.

Developing more effective managers

Talent development isn’t just for new hires; it’s for managers to build solid careers too. According to Jocelyn Stange of Quantum Workplace, “Managers play an important part in defining and driving the employee experience. But they might not be equipped to make an impact without support from leadership and ongoing training.” 

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Increased employee retention rates

Employees who appreciate the investment you’re making in their career are more apt to be loyal to the company. One study by LinkedIn indicated 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers. This is significant in a time when employers are doing everything they can to keep employees connected while they work remotely. In short, ample talent development opportunities will help you keep top talent on board longer.

How can you improve talent development at your organization?

Creating an improved talent development program for your organization requires planning and cooperation between your human resource and learning teams. However, wherever things sit currently, it is possible to make some improvements over time by following some simple talent development best practices. Learn how and where you can start:

1. Understand your company objectives.

Based on the organizational objectives, you need to build your improved talent development plan to align with these goals and your business strategy for the near future. Start from where you are now and build from there. This will help you make sure that you’re investing in the right initiatives.

Let’s say your company is planning to work more with machine learning. That means that developing your employees’ skills in that area will be crucial for the future success of your organization.

2. Identify opportunities for upskilling and reskilling.

Take an inventory of current employee skills. What’s being utilized, and what’s just waiting to be applied? Understanding where underutilized expertise and knowledge are can be an excellent way to develop the necessary skills and capabilities for the organization. Take into consideration that new job types will require new or adaptable skills.

Which employees already have the basic skills that you can focus on developing? These are great candidates for participating in upskilling initiatives. Also, if there are jobs that are at risk of becoming obsolete while other roles are emerging, consider how you can reskill your existing employees to take on the new positions.

3. Provide many learning options and methods.

By using a tailored approach to learning and development, you can build a program that meets the needs of all employees. Talent development isn’t just about formal training. It can also include on-the-job learning, mentorship programs, coaching, e-learning, self-learning, and more. Involve managers in the process and create directories of learning resources. These should be readily available to your employees.

4. Create a culture that embraces continuous learning.

Encourage active learning and focus on developing adaptability. Motivate employees carve out time to learn every day. Make continuous learning a cultural core value and find ways to instill this mindset into your workforce.

A great example of this is Visa, which has created a strong culture of learning by establishing a learning team, corporate university, and an ongoing effort to provide industry-leading customized curriculum for its employees.

5. Promote performance coaching.

As a form of on-the-job learning, performance coaching stimulates employees to improve their skills through everyday interactions. It plays a crucial role in talent development. For example, managers can use a Skill Will Matrix to determine the right coaching strategies for individual employees. Learning should always be linked to performance, which, in turn, should be defined in measurable parameters.

6. Include leadership development.

Who are the future leaders of your company? Start identifying these people now and prepare a leadership development plan for them. This will help your organization build a solid leadership talent pipeline that will be ready for whatever happens in the future. In addition, focus on helping managers develop better behaviors to improve their relationships with subordinates.

7. Include all stakeholders in the effort.

Now is the time to foster communication between all the people who can build this employee development and training program. This includes human resources, talent managers, team managers, and the employees themselves. Create a committee to regularly discuss gaps, monitor progress, and cheerlead the talent development strategy.

8. Evaluate and improve, often.

For talent development programs to succeed, there needs to be a way to track data and measure it against performance goals. Many learning management systems offer reporting that can help achieve this. However, also look at the feedback received from employees on the quality of the learning and make improvements in response.

To sum up

By following these talent development best practices, your organization will discover many benefits:

  • increased competitiveness due to highly skilled and knowledgeable employees,
  • improved engagement levels leading to greater profitability,
  • better retention rates, which reduces the burden of recruitment.

The investment in developing employees is more than worth it when it comes down to these business goals.

It’s important to note talent development is a long-term process. It takes careful planning, design, and implementation. Then, when your organization is committed to developing your employees, you can be sure that they will help you achieve organizational growth and sustainability.

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