Talent Development Strategy – Principles and Best Practices

May 11 2023
5 min read
Talent Development Strategy – Principles and Best Practices

A talent development strategy is a win-win for all – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t complicated. As an organization, you need to balance business priorities with making sure employees have a positive experience. And the fact is, talent development has a significant, direct effect on performance–not to mention boosting engagement, retention, and job satisfaction. How do you invest in talent development while making sure the company’s big-picture needs are met? The answer lies in best practices. 

The Basics of a Talent Development Strategy

Talent development is “a process which identifies and develops an organization’s high potential employees.” Companies with a growth mindset believe in the greatness of every employee, so talent includes essentially everyone who has something to contribute to the organization. The key is to develop their natural abilities and skills. 

This is where talent development strategies come into play. In a sense, they are very similar to a career management program because they:

  • Identify the skills that the organization needs
  • Allow an employee to choose a career path
  • Set out the implementation of an L&D program
  • Provide a means to assess the results

One of the differences between standard career management and talent development is that the latter tends to be ongoing. Once again, in a growth mindset organization, the idea is to leverage as many abilities as possible, and this is a goal best achieved through continuous development

The Bottom Line of Talent Development Strategies

During a deep dive into the subject, McKinsey analyzed companies with successful talent development practices. Their report looked at what percentage of them felt that the practice was very effective at supporting three critical HR metrics, as follows:

  • Retention – 78%
  • Recruiting – 81%
  • Performance Improvement – 99%

Talent Development Best Practices

Considering the significant benefits that result from talent development, it makes sense to invest a lot of effort into optimizing them. With that in mind, here are the best practices to help you make the most out of your initiatives. 

A Common Measurement Standard

Understanding which employees are best for what areas of skill development, and then assessing the results of training programs, requires a single measurement standard. By adopting a single assessment mechanism, talented employees can be identified and sent to the appropriate development paths. This is particularly important for large companies where performance grades depend on role. For instance, an accountant’s output is different from someone in sales. 

Watch Those Managers

An uncomfortable aspect of many manager-employee interactions is fear that goes both ways. Everyone has dealt with an intimidating boss, but there is also negative selection by managers. These managers are afraid of promoting people with superior skills because they don’t want to be replaced or are simply jealous. In a talent development situation, HR needs to ensure that this doesn’t happen to candidates. It’s important to keep an eye on who is chosen for such programs in relation to their known skills and competencies.   

Stretch Assignments

A critical part of implementing a talent development strategy is to design it according to the career goals of the employee. HR should provide a range of relevant opportunities and discuss the pros and cons of each as they relate to the individual and the company as a whole. 

However, it’s also important to push the envelope a bit with stretch assignments. These are specific tasks with short-term duration. Examples include a junior employee giving a presentation to VIPs or getting a spot on a project team. Such challenges give the employee a chance to see how far their current skills take them. And also to experience things that they might want to do on a permanent basis. To make the most out of stretch assignments, assign a mentor and arrange pre- and post-assignment feedback sessions.   


One of the concepts of job enrichment that also holds true for talent development is that employees should take increasing amounts of responsibility. Autonomy is crucial for building a worker’s understanding of how a process really functions. For instance, if a salesperson also takes charge of inventory, they learn more about planning and dealing with supply chain issues. In turn, they build a greater appreciation of how the total organization is put together. Such realizations allow an employee to move more easily within a company and support activity on a strategic level. 

Internal Hiring

An employee with an uncertain future in the organization because of low internal promotion rates has a problem. Without a way to move up, he or she won’t be motivated to put in extra time for training. Similarly, it is inefficient for a company to invest in talent development only to watch as that employee must go elsewhere to continue their career. Maximizing your company’s internal recruiting program is crucial for making talent development worthwhile.    

Power Your Talent Development with a Powerful Platform

Some of the biggest companies in the world rely on a vital tool for enabling their talent development programs – GrowthSpace. When it comes to supporting the best and brightest in an organization, it’s imperative to have a talent development platform that is flexible, simple to use, and easy to assess.

GrowthSpace meets all of these qualities, and more. As an award-winning technology that’s been endorsed by some of the greatest names in HR/L&D, GrowthSpace is quickly becoming the platform of choice for talented companies that want to stay that way.

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