Talent Development– The New Kid On the Block. Or is it?

A recently released report on key trends for the HR profession shows Talent Development as the top priority. Should this surprise us? Probably not considering that on average organizations spend over one third of their revenues on employee wages and benefits! Increasingly, organizations are looking to attract, retain and develop the best talent, and as we emerge from the economic downturn, this is slowly regaining its place of honor.

For the uninitiated, talent management is defined as the systematic attraction, identification, development, engagement, retention and deployment of those individuals who are of particular value to an organization, either in view of their ‘high potential’ for the future, or because they are fulfilling business/operation-critical roles. An effective talent development strategy should ideally look to integrate the following elements:

Alignment: At the outset it is critical to gain a clear understanding of the organizations current and future strategy. This will help in planning a talent strategy which is aligned to the overall strategic objectives.

Define your scope: There should be in place a clear definition of what “Talent” & “Talent Development” means to the organization. This could amongst other things necessitate a clinical view of business critical roles, definition of leadership competencies, linking of competencies to broader business objectives etc. One important aspect is outlining what falls within and out of the scope of the talent development strategy and initiatives.

Gap analysis: An analysis of where the organization is versus where it wants to be and the steps required to get there. Talent is a huge part of an organizations DNA and the ability to analyze and work towards filling the talent gaps that could potentially derail the path to business success is important. An analysis of the recruitment process and promotion decisions would need to be undertaken as well. Anticipate potential roadblocks and plan around these.

Design and development: This is where one looks at what initiatives you will need to introduce or re-design in order to support the talent development strategy. Depending on the size of, and resources available within your organization, this could be an in-house initiative or serviced by a suitable vendor. A right mix of blended solutions which incorporate business priorities and clearly define objectives of participants should be sought. This would necessarily require you to source and manage stakeholder support and seek assistance right from the beginning.

Ongoing management: Talent management is a year round responsibility and once launched will need constant nurturing and support. Continuous improvements as with any process is mandatory. Your talent pool will need to be confident in the process and believe in its efficacy in supporting their development, so listening to their feedback is critical.

Measurement: The challenge around measuring the return of HR initiatives is immense. Working with changing global economies and ever changing parameters, the company of today is an extremely dynamic and demanding environment. Add to this the challenge of business targets vying for space along with talent initiatives and we get a sense of how this is a huge animal. This is, therefore, where creative mindsets will play an important role. We need to think of new and more innovative ways for measuring impact which move away from more traditional elements such as feedback or attendance! Retention figures, career progression, people and peer development etc. could provide some food for thought.

In a world where differentiation on markets or products is minimal; talent development could well go on to be the one true differentiating factor in organizations. As enablers of this important trend, we need to combine an effective understanding of the organization and a sound strategy to drive successful and sustainable talent development.

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