Developing talent is one of the best ways to assure your organization has the leaders it will need for a strong future and pain-free transitions of power. Naturally, to develop talent, first you have to have talent. The good news is that once you have it, developing it is a great way to keep it. Talent development will help your organization stay a step ahead in the talent war.
A successful talent development plan will include these five key elements:
1. Clearly defined responsibility
Before you can build a successful talent development plan, you need to know who’s responsible for initiating and keeping up with it. If you’re expecting your employees to identify areas of career growth, you need to communicate that to them. If not, they need to know how you are going to help. One of the main reasons that organizations lose talent is because of a lack of learning opportunities. You don’t want employees leaving because they didn’t understand they were responsible for identifying those opportunities.
2. A Focus on talent not skill
It’s easy to identify skills that people have, but when you’re developing talent, it’s important to focus on, well, talent. Talents are natural; skills come from honing a craft. Someone may be very skilled but still not right for talent development. Success comes from a combination of hard work, dedication, passion and vision. Look for these characteristics in your employees.
3. Time and priority
Like most things, talent can’t be developed overnight. It takes mentoring, coaching, training. If you don’t carve out time and dedicate it to talent development, chances are employees will be constantly caught up in day-to-day duties and every small crisis that comes up in the normal work day. Consider setting aside time each month for structured talent development. When you come up with a plan, commit to it and don’t let everyday activities take priority over your long-term investment in talent.
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4. Real training
Don’t be afraid to offer employees real training and opportunities. Real training doesn’t mean handing your best and brightest a manual to read or video to watch; it means giving them real work experience and structured training to gain skills. If you can’t provide structured training, consider sending them offsite or back to school to get the training they will need. Offering some sort of tuition reimbursement or education benefit shows your talent that you value their education.
5. A culture of talent development
A culture of talent development starts at the top with senior executives. Senior leaders can create a culture that nurtures talent development by:
- Acting as role models – leaders should share what they too want to learn
- Reinforcing the value of learning – ask what others see as gaps and what they want to learn
- Building a process to support development – managers should act as coaches
- Reinforcing shared values – employees need to understand why what they do is important
- Using issues that come up as real-world training opportunities
For the best results, your talent development program needs to be agile and include both planned and unplanned learning. Creating a culture and having a viable plan in place for talent development will help you strengthen your organization now and for years to come.