Talent Development Programs: It’s About More than Training

Eric Bierig
Eric Bierig
Jun 23 2023
5 min read
Talent Development Programs: It’s About More than Training

Talent development programs are one of the best tools out there for creating competitiveness, retention, and engagement. For proper planning, however, you’ll need more than just L&D courses. Here are some of the steps that you can take to ensure that a talent development program has the support it needs for full effectiveness. 

The Smart Bet Is on Talent Development

Some organizations pick employees who are outstanding and put them on a leadership track. Others, such as those that believe in a Growth Mindset, take the time to analyze the specific talents that every employee has and then nurture them through customized L&D programs

Regardless of your philosophy, talent development programs are all about identifying and developing an organization’s high potential employees. These are not run of the mill initiatives that hope to bring about some performance improvements. Instead, they are critical for an organization’s future, because productive companies run on talented workers at every level. In fact, according to McKinsey, high performance employees are productive at a rate that is four times that of average workers.  

Constructing a Talent Development Environment

With so much riding on talent development, it’s good policy to ensure that programs have everything they need for success. We’ve outlined below some of the basic moves that HR can take to create an optimal setting for them.  

Distinct Place in the Hierarchy

Most HR departments run lots of programs. This can be an advantage because it addresses the many factors that influence productivity and engagement. But when it comes to talent development, being just one of many can have a downside–namely, that the initiative does not get the highlighted presence it deserves. 

Instead, making talent development into a separate activity center will greatly increase the awareness it needs to attract your best performers. To accomplish this, HR should consider:

  • Nominating a talent development manager who is relatively high in the organization
  • Creating a talent development department and giving it separate offices and communications media
  • Promoting the initiative to the executive level so as to secure a budget and HR resources   

Internal and External Recognition

Frequent mentions of your talent development program in company communications can provide many advantages. It will enhance the reputation of the initiative so that participants will “build their brand” in the company. It will also let prospective employees know that your organization takes learning and development seriously, which is an important factor in attracting job candidates.

Internally, awards and complimentary mentions can build a participant’s sense of pride both in their wins and their membership in the program. Highlighting special achievements, promotions, and milestones can increase morale. In fact, 37% of employees feel that recognition is an important motivator for a quality effort.   

A Culture of Learning

A premium level of workplace skills does not happen overnight. In a talent development program, it takes time and effort from many stakeholders to build both hard and soft skills to a highly competitive level:

  • A skills gap analysis should indicate what programs the organization needs in order to enhance its operations
  • A career development (or similar) plan will give you an idea of a candidate’s individual abilities and where they want to go professionally
  • A proficient talent development program will bring the employee up to speed in the areas defined in the first two steps
  • Training must be ongoing to account for the rapid rate of skill obsolescence 

All of these factors mean that a participant in a talent development program will need to be learning frequently, to the point where it might be a major aspect of their job. A culture of learning will make this effort easier to accept because various employees will be doing the same thing. 

Managerial Participation

Besides employees, the stakeholders in your organization who experience the “business end” of talent development programs are managers. They are in the best position to see if all that training is paying off in the here and now as employees apply new skills to their job. (It’s also true that direct managers are critical for engagement initiatives). So it’s essential to interview and/or survey the direct managers of program participants on a regular basis to get their feedback about course effectiveness.

Secondly, you should speak with direct managers to arrange employee schedules. As mentioned above, participants will need to fit in a lot of learning over the course of their day and must coordinate this effort with regular tasks. 

Regular Assessment

When it comes to talent development, you’ll need to be at the top of your game for measuring training effectiveness. This means goal setting and evaluation models, plus data gathering and analysis. And don’t forget that, because talent development is an initiative in which the executive level should be involved, you might need to present the program’s return on investment numbers.  

Technology Investment

To make a talent development program accessible and efficient, it’s necessary to purchase the resources that allow these functions to happen. You may want to include technologies such as these in your program:

  • Learning management systems
  • Feedback and reporting mechanisms
  • Classroom and instructional equipment
  • A communications medium for coaches, mentors, and trainers
  • A forum to handle informal feedback and support

Top-Tier Talent Development Technology from Growthspace

There are many vendors out there for the systems you’ll need for talent development. But why take a risk on substandard technologies when you are nurturing your best people for the future?

Growthspace is the world’s leading talent development platform. While winning multiple awards and receiving acclaim from industry experts, Growthspace has become the tool that some of the globe’s leading organizations use to support their top talent. 

Eric Bierig
Eric Bierig
Eric Bierig is an organizational development strategist at Growthspace. With an MSc in Industrial Organizational Psychology and experience in Talent and Organizational Development roles in various organizations, Eric leverages his subject matter expertise to share knowledge and best practices, build guides and materials, develop & execute new and impactful programs and products, and help enable both Growthspace and their customers in achieving their strategic initiatives. Eric is a husband, a father, an amateur musician, an avid hockey fan (Lets Go Rangers!) and a functional cereal addict

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