7 Effective Talent Development Strategies For 2020

Corey Bleich
5 min read

It might be hard to believe, but chances are good that some of the best talent for your business isn’t just one recruiter phone call away: it’s right under your nose. Here are seven talent development strategies that can help you identify and nurture your employees’ skills to build a better workforce.

What does talent development mean?

Talent development has seen a variety of definitions over the years, but what remains consistent has been this:

Talent development includes capitalizing on the strengths and abilities of employees, helping them to become stronger and grow within your company.

In terms of training and development, this means:

  • Recognizing potential in your employees
  • Targeting specific areas of strength and employee interest
  • Moving employees to areas in which they are best suited
  • Looking at teams and how they could thrive over time
  • Designing talent development initiatives to ensure growth

Why is it important?

Today’s employees are spending more time at work at the same time as they are craving more balance in their lives. With younger workers especially, this balance is crucial, as is knowing that the job they are doing makes a difference.

Talent development initiatives offer employees an opportunity to learn and expand in their areas of interest. This, in turn, makes them happier and more productive (and more likely to stick around).

Talent development goes deeper than straightforward training initiatives about regulations. This is where employees get to explore and expand their interests and abilities in the context of work.

Done successfully, talent development in the course of training helps employees do their jobs better and enjoy doing them.

7 talent development strategies to foster growth

Talent development strategies do not occur in a vacuum. Indeed, if a talent development program is to work, it needs to be intentional, well-planned, and expertly executed.

Here are seven talent development strategies that can help you foster growth among employees and within your organization.

1. Get the C-suite on board

Research on talent development has found that the best leaders are ones who are committed to talent development for all employees. This same research also found that as people move up the ladder and open the doors to their own advancement, they begin to forget to help others do the same.

Getting buy-in from company executives means helping them see how their role as leaders impacts the company. Employees want to see that their bosses actively encourage and are committed to their growth.

2. Make sure your organization’s mission is in place

Whether your overall goal is compassionate healthcare or problem-solving customer service, make sure your company’s mission and goals are clearly communicated.

This goes a long way towards the next step, but is also part of culture-building at work. How can you map a route towards talent if you have no idea what the destination is? If this step is not in place, developing a clear-eyed vision of your company’s future can be a great tool for getting the C-suite on board, too.

3. Identify the necessary talent to get you where you’re going

Once you have your company mission, take the time to list the necessary skills and talents your employees will need to move towards this goal.

Consider both hard and soft skills when taking this inventory.

4. Look within

It’s true: even the smallest companies are bursting with talent. It is entirely possible that all of the skills you need now or in the future may already be on your payroll.

All of the skills you need may already be on your payroll

One of the best talent development strategies is showing employees that you are committed to them not only in their careers but also as well-rounded people who may be under-utilized and ready for more challenging work.

Does this mean tacking extra jobs onto an already robust job description? Absolutely not. What it does mean is taking that entry-level field service technician who has demonstrated experience in management and offering them time away from their work to attend a talent development program. This could give them the skills to plan and manage a new project for expanding your service offerings.

Consider other examples:

  • An internet installer who has a background in music or sound production designs whole-house or whole-company sound systems that are controlled with an app
  • A registered nurse who is also a writer and volunteers with a hospice on their days off writes and edits a guide to traumatic injury and recovery

The goal is not to do more with less but to use talent development strategies to offer employees more meaningful work that incorporates their interests into their daily work and deepens their skills.

5. Design talent development initiatives that work

A one-off training program isn’t talent development that’s likely to stick. Employees put their time in on the conference chair, and then promptly forget everything they learned before the weekend comes.

Talent development initiatives that work:

  • Start with a training needs analysis (see #2 and #3 above as part of this)
  • Are delivered in the best way for the type of skill being developed, such as hands-on collaborative projects for building teams or microlearning resources for incremental, long-term skills building
  • Offer opportunities for practice (experiential learning is a great option)
  • Take employee feedback into account for future trainings

A good training program is one that is memorable, so take the time to create resources that are engaging and truly useful for employees.

6. Build in coaching opportunities

Managers, this one’s for you: you’ll need to regularly coach and check in with employees as part of your company’s talent development strategies.

This doesn’t necessarily need to be you, though. Coaches can be recruited from all over the organization, so really, it’s about delegation. Identify coaches at all levels who have the skills your employees are learning who can check in with employees.

7. Make talent development part of your company culture

If company culture dictates a growth mindset where talents are discovered and nurtured as a matter of course, training to support that will become a regular part of the workday.

This helps not only strengthen your current teams, but is also useful in recruiting additional members in the future. Today’s workforce craves growth. Create a workplace where learning is prioritized and built into your daily operations and you’ll create a place where people love to work.

At EdgePoint Learning, talent development is what we do. For help with your training needs analysis to full-blown course design, get in touch today to learn more about our approach to learning.

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