Here’s Why You Can’t Afford to Ignore Talent Development

Has 2019 been a “breakout year” for your business in terms of talent development? No? Maybe it should be.

The 2019 Workplace Learning Report by LinkedIn called 2019 the breakout year for talent development because of the big impact it can have on business. And when it comes to talent development, the report cited “closing the skills gap” as the number one priority.

Macro trends like digital transformation and the decreasing shelf-life of skills are challenging organizations to play catch up as they try to hire and develop their people. This year, the number one focus for talent developers is to identify, assess, and close skills gaps.”

So why should you focus on talent development and closing that skills gap?

Business magnate Richard Branson expressed it best when he said: “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

It’s all about keeping good people.

Every business is different. The way in which you go about closing that skills gap can take many forms. Here are some real world examples of different approaches companies have taken to closing that skills gap.

A small public accounting firm made re-energizing their mentoring program a part of their strategic plan. This was born out of concern for succession planning, as they had multiple retirements pending and wanted to pass on knowledge to younger employees.

Start at the Entry Level
An organization in the service industry decided to focus on training from the entry level on up. Because they were looking to add additional locations, it was a prime opportunity to hire candidates at the entry level role who were motivated to build a career and develop a skill set enabling them to eventually become a leader. A structured talent development program enabled that progression.

Promoting from Within
A company looking for management candidates turned to their subject matter experts. Rather than looking outside, existing employees might be good candidates for management/executive team roles – with some talent development. A concerted focus on coaching and leadership skills training can help them gain the soft skills that come with managing people.

Culture Development
One head of a local business starts every initiative with the same foundational concept: my employees are this company’s greatest asset. Everything stems from that. Talent development should be tailored to fit your specific culture, and can be used to support overall culture development. When you invest in training, you are building a great place to work. That’s a big part of attracting and retaining top talent.

Keep This In Mind

So, if the above examples inspire you to get serious about talent development and bridging the skills gap, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Start with an outline to give your training program some structure and then marry it to your strategic plan.
  • Assign one key person as owner of the program to drive it forward. Splitting up ownership amongst existing management rarely works as other priorities will creep in to take precedence.
  • Tailor your training to meet specific goals. For example – if you’re in customer service, do you want to be able to respond to inquiries in 24 hours or 2 hours? Build your plan to support that goal.
  • Consider engaging top performers in your company to spearhead talent development programs as a “stretch” assignment. These folks are go getters and want more to do and learn! Just be sure to give them the time they’ll need to focus on something new.
  • Engage outside training resources for support when needed.
  • Create repeatable training content such as videos and PowerPoint presentations.
  • Think like a marketer to create a buzz when promoting your talent development plan to employees.

How do we know this works? The Skills Gap2019 Study by SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, lists the most effective remedies for bridging the skills gap as:

  • Providing on-site training to employees
  • Starting/expanding training programs to help improve skills of new hires
  • Hiring external workforce
  • Increasing compensation
  • Improving retention efforts for current employees

Training and the Career Lattice

There really is no career “ladder” anymore – the reality is a career lattice. Careers expand horizontally, and giving your employees the chance to develop their skill set will keep them happy and engaged within your organizations.  You may find the advice in this article by the members of the Forbes Human Resources Council interesting. The article states: “The career lattice allows for sideways, backward and diagonal movement within a career, whereas a ladder only offers one trajectory: up.” If up means out (as it unfortunately often does), creating a better lattice with training just makes sense. How does the lattice look for your employees?

If your lattice and talent development program needs work or a brand new start, ConnectedHR can help. Check out our training resources and Management Training Series of events. Or if you’d like to learn more, let us know.

Tweets by ConnectedHR