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Top of the Mountain Talent Progression

By February 3, 2020 February 4th, 2020 No Comments

Are you struggling with finding and keeping talent for critical roles?

How do you influence your organization to think about employee development in new ways?

I see it as a progression, beginning with focusing our efforts on talent management, such as finding the right person with the right skills to fill a role. The next step is talent development, which is providing skills and experiences for employees to step into new roles, such as a leadership position. Generally, our efforts are targeted at a portion of the employee population and developed for specific reasons, like a new system or process being introduced in the organization. Training is usually developed to target specific audiences, but rarely dives down into individual needs. I would like to see organizations get to talent enhancement, where skills and experiences are created at an individual level and each employee has a leader who understands their personal development needs, forming a continuous learning journey for the employee that never ends.

I have seen talent enhancement done well by one of my clients. It is more complex than just identifying gaps in knowledge or training employees in new skills. This client considers each employee a hub with unique needs and experiences. By creating a network of learning hubs, employees can thrive and build meaningful careers. Here are some five components needed to enhance employee development:

  1. Understand what knowledge, skills, and experiences each employee brings to the organization.
  2. Provide personalized pathways for employees to build upon this foundation
  3. Find ways to grow and expand your employees’ viewpoints.
  4. Pair up employees with senior leaders who can provide different perspectives and exposure to different parts of the organization.
  5. Understand where your employees want to take their careers.

I worked with one client to leverage new systems to make custom employee pathways possible. Together, we thought through the key leadership attributes needed to be successful in the organization and then created a flexible environment where employees could access resources to support their individual development needs at their own pace. It was a mix of structure and elasticity in one place where they could get information. This particular system also curated information and provided weekly or daily updates based on the employee’s preference and the skills that the employee was working to enhance. Employees liked that the system was flexible and targeted to them. They also liked that most of the content took no more than five minutes long and each resource included an estimated completion. Additionally, employees had access to other leaders to help them apply new knowledge. Having these leaders available helped drive accountability for incorporating new skills and testing them out.

Most employees are able to utilize new knowledge and skills. The bigger question is whether there is support and willingness to incorporate individual growth in the organization. Initiatives need to be supported at all levels; otherwise they are wasted endeavors.

There will continue to be major shifts in the way we work and how organizations are structured. Our biggest challenge in learning and performance is closing the skills gap, but it will be an iterative endeavor. In a report out from LinkedIn Learning, their 2019 Workplace Learning Report reinforces this: “With the tightening labor market and the shortening shelf life of skills, creating and maintaining market leadership hinges on talent development’s ability to help employees acquire and grow the right skills.”

Talent will be much more fluid within future organizations, so we need to think creatively about the best ways to leverage our talent pools. Otherwise, they will leave, and organizations will fail to thrive.

Be willing to take some risks.

Your employees are counting on you!

This article was published in The Association for Talent Development, Chicagoland Chapter (ATDChi) Training Today, Fall 2019.
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