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Talent Development Strategies: 8 Best Practices for Your Organization

March 30, 2023

9 minread

byCasey Clark

Casey Clark
Casey Clark

Senior Business Advisor

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

As a business partner, he helps his clients get a holistic view of their financial health by slowing down to talk about numbers. Then, he breaks down even complex problems into one or two elements to help them break through their barriers of growth.

All organizations know that without putting a focus on developing talent, you’ll quickly miss out on your most valuable asset. The people who are behind your company can make a world of difference in how successful your company is. The right talent development strategies are the foundation of a company’s sustainability and organizational performance. Have you put much thought into your company’s talent development program? At Cultivate Advisors, we are experts in talent management! Please reach out to our talent management consultants to learn more about how we can help you.

What Is Talent Development?

talent development strategies

Talent development consists of capitalizing on the strength and skills of your employees to enable them to become stronger assets within your organization. Although the exact definition can change based on the organization, there are many underlying initiatives that talent development efforts revolve around:

  • Identifying employee skills and top talent within your organization.
  • Implementing continuous learning that targets areas of employee interest.
  • Moving employees into different departments that better suit their skills.
  • Evaluating teams and determining how they could thrive over time.
  • Focusing on talent development strategies to continuously grow employees’ skills.

Talent Development vs. Talent Management: What Is the Difference?

It’s important to keep in mind that your talent development strategy is different from your talent management strategy. Although these two terms are used interchangeably, they have distinct characteristics that often complement one another. Let’s delve into the main differences between the two below:

  • They have a different focus: Talent development refers to an emphasis on developing employee competencies and skills. This is achieved through personalized development plans and individual learning plans for each employee. On the other hand, talent management is an organizational strategy that revolves around finding, hiring, and retaining top talent. This involves recruiting through human resources and succession planning.
  • Talent development is more specific, while talent management is strategic: Talent development programs focus on fostering environments of ongoing learning and developing employees’ growth mindset. This helps to increase retention and develops future leaders. Talent management is more about maximizing individual talent.
  • Talent development initiatives are tailored to individual employees: Helping employees advance in their career paths is the core of talent development. Through training programs and specific tools, talent development managers help teams meet both professional and personal goals. Talent management is more about optimizing talent through reskilling and upskilling. If there are skill gaps, talent management is an ongoing process that helps to meet organizational objectives.
  • Talent development extends beyond training: On-the-job learning opportunities are part of talent development as employees learn to improve soft skills and take on more responsibilities along their employee journey.

Common Talent Development Myths and Misconceptions

what is talent development

Before you’re able to develop a strong talent development program, you’ll want to learn about what talent development is and is not. There are many myths surrounding this business strategy that we address below.

1. Talent development is only for new hires.

One common myth is that talent development strategies only apply to new hires, but this isn’t the case. Your training program should always be included during the onboarding process, but there are many existing employees that can benefit from having development programs as well. Simultaneously, these programs should support career and employee development, something that benefits not only the company culture but the employee.

2. Talent development means face-to-face training.

Traditionally, a talent development manager would conduct this training in a classroom-style setting. However, these tactics surrounding talent development have since evolved. Lectures are more interactive and meaningful, and many organizations are implementing virtual classrooms for their talent development program. Employee engagement has since improved as employees are actively engaged with the new information coming their way.

3. Talent development is expensive.

This is another misconception. Formal programs that take place in a classroom can absolutely be expensive. However, online training has helped to reduce the overall cost of these development opportunities while simultaneously increasing employee retention. More employees are able to access these training materials in a cost-effective manner.

4. Talent development means digital learning.

Not all talent development strategies are digital. In fact, any good talent development program will combine both asynchronous and synchronous learning methods for their teams. This is the best approach to ensuring that technical skills and leadership development are a focus within your talent pipeline.

5. Talent development is self-paced.

Many people associate talent development with a self-paced learning management system that allows employees to go through the material in their own time. However, this method is only effective for so long before learners become less motivated. This is why new skills are delivered by managers in an individual setting. This helps companies achieve a level of high performance while showing employees exactly what they need to know.

Why Should Your Organization Prioritize Talent Development?

developing talent in the workplace

According to a study conducted by McKinsey & Company, 87 percent of companies say that they have skill gaps, or they expect to in the next few years. Even with the most talented individuals working for your company, there’s no way that you can stay ahead of your competitors and meet your organizational goals without thinking about a skills gap.

Helps Increase Employee Retention

Companies are experiencing fierce competition to obtain and retain top talent. This means that improving employee retention should be top of mind regardless of the industry you’re in. This is where talent development initiatives can act as a secret weapon to help you meet your goals. Employees seeking jobs noted that the number one reason they planned to look for a new job in 2022 was seeking opportunities for promotion and growth. With the right talent development strategy in place, your company will stand out.

Improves Employee and Business Performance

To improve talent development, you need to empower your employees with the skills they need to succeed. As a result, they will reap the rewards alongside your company. If employees’ skills aren’t where they need to be, they are more than likely to achieve their goals and continue to have a high level of employee engagement.

Assists with Succession Planning

Your experienced and tenured team members have the necessary skills and knowledge required to contribute to the overall success of your company. If seasoned employees leave for another opportunity, this is where succession planning comes into play; it offers a formal structure for transferring knowledge between employees. With the right formal training on processes and procedures, it helps to ensure no knowledge is lost. Unfortunately, only 35% of organizations have a formalized succession planning process in place.
It’s essential that you don’t lose this knowledge that helps to achieve your goals and the company’s mission. Having a talent development program collects and analyzes data that are needed for employees to take on different roles and ensures a smooth transition if one is needed in the future.

Recognizes the Correlation Between Feedback and Performance

how to develop talent in an organization

All employees want feedback on their performance, but not many organizations provide it in a meaningful way. Having a strong talent development program helps with establishing an effective system in which open communication and feedback are integral between managers and their teams. This helps the organization build processes that address weaknesses in employees and further develop their strengths.

What Are the Main Goals of a Talent Development Program?

Here are some of the main goals of talent development in your company:

  • Reduce the skills gaps between current skills and the business needs of the organization.
  • Create a workforce that helps the company achieve its goals.
  • Retaining top talent and motivated employees to learn new skills.
  • Reskilling employees so the company can be competitive.
  • Succession planning to set your company up for long-term growth and success.
  • Performance improvement through increased employee engagement.
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How Can You Improve Talent Development at Your Organization?

In many cases, meeting your organizational goals is accomplished through talent development. This process doesn’t happen overnight, and it’s important that there is open communication across teams so improvements can be made. Here are some tips for implementing.

1. Determine Your Company Objectives

Before getting started, make sure that you’re aware of your company’s objectives, as these will help drive your strategies. Consider where you currently are in the process and outline areas of opportunity for growth. This can help ensure that you’re putting resources toward the right initiatives. For example, if you’re hoping to work with machine learning, you can help to develop skills in this particular area.

2. Outline Opportunities for Upskilling and Reskilling

Consider the existing skills of your employees and take an inventory of what is being utilized and where there are opportunities for growth. Having an awareness of the underutilized expertise on your team can help managers know where and how to take action. Are there current employees that have basic skills that need refining? Are there upskilling opportunities within the organization? In the case that there are jobs at risk of becoming obsolete, consider if you have employees that can transition into a new role given their skills.

3. Provide Many Learning Options and Methods

Not all employees prefer to learn in the same manner. Make sure that you’re building a program that meets all employee needs and utilizes a mixture of tactics such as on-the-job training, eLearning, self-learning, mentorship programs, and more. All resources should be available to employees.

4. Build a Culture that Embraces Continuous Learning

Make sure that continuous learning and adaptability are at the core of your program. Even motivating employees to spend 15 minutes daily learning new skills can help instill a forward-thinking mindset within your company. These small habits might not seem significant but when they’re rolled out across your organization over a long period of time, they can help employees feel empowered to reach their goals.

5. Promote Performance Coaching

ways to develop talent in an organization

One example of on-the-job learning is performance coaching. This helps employees hone in on their skill improvement through everyday actions, and it can be an integral approach to their development. For example, some managers might choose to utilize a skill will matrix to outline the ideal coaching strategies. Make sure that learning is always tied to performance that is measurable.

6. Focus on Leadership Development

Consider who are the future leaders of your company and how talent development programs can help them achieve their goals. Doing so allows your company to create a leadership pipeline that is adaptable and excited for what the future holds for them within the business. It’s also important to help managers feel empowered to develop positive behaviors that build trust between them and their subordinates.

7. Loop in all Stakeholders in the Process

Fostering communication across stakeholders can be a huge asset when you’re developing your program. Anyone from human resources to team managers to employees themselves should be in constant communication to identify performance gaps, stay updated on progress and actively participate in talent development strategies.

8. Constantly Evaluate and Improve

Your training program should always use tangible data to track performance as it’s happening. This is where an effective learning management system can come into play. You should also consistently get feedback from your employees to see what is helping and what could improve.

Talent Development Examples

how to improve talent development

There are many approaches to talent development, so it is sometimes easier to explore specific examples that bring strategies to life.

1. Individualized Growth Plans

If you’re hoping to retain your top-performing employees, make sure to work with employees individually to build specific and actionable growth plans that cater to their strengths, weaknesses, and future goals. This can help increase their level of engagement and motivate them to become better in their role.

2. Formal Internal Programs

If your bandwidth allows, you should strive to create development plans and in-house training that revolves around specific technical skills.

3. Partnerships with External Providers

External programs allow your employees to access learning and information that they wouldn’t be able to access within the company. These programs could be online courses, in-person training, or a combination of the two.

4. Mentorship Opportunities

Tailored mentorship is essential to developing talent, especially for those employees who are targeted as future leaders within the workforce.

Talent Development: The Final Thoughts

As you can see, talent development strategies can make an integral difference to your organization and can assist you in meeting your goals. If you haven’t thought about establishing a talent development program or you need help refining yours, look no further than Cultivate Advisors. Our team is experienced in working with many industries and is here to help you every step of the way. To find a talent development consultant who can assist you, please reach out to our team at Cultivate Advisors today!

Contact Us Today to See How We Can Help You Improve Talent Development!

Contact Us Today to See How We Can Help You Improve Talent Development!

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