Talent Development

How should organizations develop their most talented people? The first step is to understand that most employees have talents that should be identified and developed—and by doing this, the benefits of optimizing employee skills are as widespread as possible. 

What is talent development?

Talent development within an organization is a process by which an individual’s innate capabilities are identified and nurtured. In other words, talent development is the stage before professional skills development. First, a person’s natural talents must be understood, and only then can their related skills be fostered through a talent development program.  

Some organizations see talent development as applying only to “high-potential” employees, i.e., those who have already demonstrated a higher level of professional value than their peers. However, a more modern approach is to see talent development as a way to discover the greatness of every employee.   

Why is talent development important?

The concept of “high potential” potential employees is an offshoot of the “80/20” rule, AKA the Pareto Principle, which states (when applied to businesses) that 80% of productivity comes from 20% of employees. For this reason, learning and development programs are usually focused on upper management, where performance (good or bad) is highly noticeable. 

However, managers who adopt this concept face the risk of decreasing engagement levels among those who might not be as visible as those seen as top performers. In addition, looking only at “stars” means that management is failing to tap into a potential talent pool that could be extremely valuable. 

In light of this, the Pareto Principle should be interpreted to mean that managers need to identify the 20% of tasks where an employee is outstanding, and then provide the means for them to develop the talent that enhances this performance.

By doing so, companies can develop a competitive edge. One of the major challenges facing organizations today is the skills gap; 87% of companies recognize that their employees lack the necessary skills for doing their job properly. Implementing talent development initiatives is an important tool for optimizing the number and quality of skills available from existing employees. Otherwise, without talent development, companies must hire from outside the organization, a strategy which is quite costly.  

The many benefits of talent development are felt by employees and employers alike. These include:

1. Improved performance

When employees’ skills are honed, it follows that they will do their job more efficiently, quickly, with fewer mistakes and greater results. 

2. Happy employees

Employers who proactively invest in their employees’ growth make them feel valued; this in turn boosts employee engagement and retention.

3. Landing new talent

People want to work for companies that invest in their people. By promoting their talent development programs, companies can reach and attract desirable new candidates. 

4. Fewer skill gaps

Talent development leverages efforts such as personalized L&D programs to identify and reduce skill gaps. This strengthens both employee and organizational competencies.

5. Prepared for the future

50% of all employees will need reskilling by 2025. A talent development plan can help companies beat their competition by proactively developing their employees’ skills. 

6. Better compliance

Talent development contributes to improved legal compliance by showing that they are serious about creating a safe, inclusive, non-discriminatory work environment for all. 

What are talent development professionals?

Talent development professionals (also called talent developers) oversee an organization’s talent development strategy. They are in charge of cultivating employees’ skills in a way that promotes the organization’s values and goals, with a special focus on retaining the top talent. They often work closely together with the HR department in recruitment efforts. Talent developers typically have superb communication, leadership, and people skills.

What does a talent development professional do?

Talent development professionals identify and address skill gaps to meet organizational goals. They evaluate employee performance and assess skill levels, and based on their analysis, draw up company-wide training and reskilling programs, seminars, and other plans to fill skill gaps and meet business aims. At the same time, they strive to align with each employee’s goals and aspirations, to ensure that these efforts are as successful and effective as possible.

How talent development fits into an organization

To be effective, talent development efforts require three basic characteristics:

Involvement of Management

Talent development must be a comprehensive process that occurs at all levels of a company. Upper management needs to approve and monitor talent development efforts. Secondly, direct managers must be involved in various ways:

  • Setting schedules to allow for talent development
  • Enabling the employee to provide feedback about talent development programs
  • Ensuring that the employee actually progresses within the company according to the benefits of the talent development program

The direct manager can be directly involved by acting as a coach, if they have the skills, time, and temperament. The close relationship between employee and direct manager can lead to spontaneous learning experiences that occur on the job when teaching opportunities arise.    

Proper Setting

The most common medium for talent development is a group setting such as a forum, course, workshop, or seminar. Unfortunately, these settings are not the best for individual focus, which is central to nurturing personal aptitudes.

Instead, wherever possible, one-on-one meetings are preferable. This environment is the most advantageous for direct teaching and immediate, honest feedback. In this setting, it is much easier for the coach, mentor, or trainer to become familiar with the employee, build a productive relationship, and track their progress. 


Once underway, a talent development program requires assessment and adaptation. Both the manager and the employee should acknowledge the amount of progress that has been achieved. If this is not satisfactory, then the program needs to be altered. Again, a one-on-one setting and close employee-manager relationship are important ingredients for ensuring that talent development is moving ahead smoothly. 

What is the difference between talent development and talent management?

These terms are often used interchangeably, but have important distinctions. Talent development is focused on just that: developing, motivating, and retaining employees. This is done through personalized learning and growth plans, to not only boost professional performance, but also employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention. Talent development utilizes on-the-job learning opportunities, such as job shadowing and taking on new responsibilities, with the goal of helping employees advance in their career paths. 

Talent management, on the other hand, is a higher-level organizational strategy for recruiting top talent. Talent management always has an eye on succession planning and the bigger picture; the aim is to build a “talent pipeline” so the company can find and retain strategic talent to meet their long-term goals. One of the ways this is done is through reskilling and upskilling. Efforts are focused on identifying, maximizing, and leveraging hidden talents of employees to create a high-performance organization.

Talent development with Growthspace

Despite the importance of talent development, few organizations implement the kind of process that will maximize the skills of their workforce. This is reflected in the skills gap mentioned above. 

One of the barriers for efficient talent development is scalability. It is simple to recognize the talent of an individual employee and build an L&D program for them. However, repeating these steps for hundreds of workers is beyond the capabilities of most organizations. 

Growthspace responds to this challenge with a technology-based system that can be scaled to support the talent development goals of any organization. It uses a proprietary technique to separate L&D program requirements into elements and then identify highly graded experts to provide instruction in the associated skills. Using this method, Growthspace can uncover the talent development needs of an entire organization. Through a global network of experts, it will also source the right coach, mentor, or trainer to enhance those talents.  

About Growthspace

Growthspace’s L&D platform is changing the world of employee learning and development with a scalable, technology-based approach unlike any other. If you want to finally see what employee L&D programs can really do for your organization, contact us.  

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