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Why talent development matters on the job

Written by Steven Geelen on 14 August 2018 for Clients

“Job-skills training is a shared responsibility between leaders and employees. If you want to have a healthy high-performing workplace, and if you want to succeed as a business, you have to do this.”

David Ballard, PhD, assistant executive director of the APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence, speaking over at Fast Company.

Introduction: Developing Talent

As a team lead or hiring manager, talent development should be one of the cornerstones of your working philosophy. But what is the tangible return on investment of talent development, really? And why does it seem to be so tricky to get it right?

Talent development at a glance

Here are some cold hard stats to start us off in our study of talent development:

  • In a survey by Westfield Health, 74%  of employees reported feeling more satisfied, motivated, and loyal when they know an employer cares about their wellbeing
  • Attracting high quality candidates is the top challenge for 76% of hiring managers (Glassdoor)
  • 87% of millennials say professional development or career growth opportunities are very important (2016)
  • Replacing an employee costs employers 33% of that employee’s annual salary (Work Institute)
  • Variety is the spice of life. 56% of employees want flexible work options (Mercer)

This is hardly an exhaustive list, but even these results should be perking you up.

The business benefits of talent development: a deep dive

The stats above are only the tip of the iceberg: there are other major reasons why you should focus on developing talent and talent intelligence in your organizations and why you should invest in your employees.

Talent development

Better levels of customer service

If you ask your clients or customers, there’s nothing sure to impress them than excellent customer service. The standards of a company’s customer service speak volumes about the quality of that company overall, revealing how they treat their staff and view their customers.

Having excellent customer service begins with having a well-trained, knowledgeable team who understand the customer’s problems without having to look the answer up in a database or escalate the issue to their manager.

If personalized training plans = better customer service overall then it’s something we would strongly advise you take on board.

An engaged and motivated workforce

To put it bluntly; learning opportunities are a good way to motivate people without throwing money at them.

The enthusiasm and ambassadorship of an engaged workforce will also subtly improve the reputation of your business. We should also note that an engaged workforce plays a hand in lowering production costs simply because your team or employees are more productive.

Reduce absenteeism and improve retention

Professional development is a powerful way of keeping your team both happy and productive. Remember though that you’re not just doing this to keep them happy: you’re keeping your workforce healthy as well.

If your team feels that the organization cares about them and helps them grow professionally, then it naturally leads to an increase in engagement.

Engaged, happy employees are more likely to stay with your company for the long term as well as just show up every day.

Reduce recruitment costs

Recruitment costs can easily be reduced if you look internally at your existing staff and consider who may be eligible or could really benefit from extra training in an employee development opportunity.

Increased productivity and efficiency

We’ve touched on this already but really it goes without saying that a person who is better trained is more efficient and productive than one who is not.

There is an ‘unfortunately’ to all of this though.

Unfortunately, you see, the road to success isn’t always smooth, and there are a few bumps to watch out for along the way.

Challenges facing talent development in 2018

A 2012 study by the Society for Human Resource Management found that by 2022 talent management will be HR’s greatest challenge.

Talent development

The reasons for this are manifold, including things like employees demanding higher total compensation for their work, due to mounting pressure caused by the tightening of the talent market. When you throw high turnover and lack of leadership into the mix, you have a very volatile beast on your hands.

Facing these obstacles and possible outcomes, development planning is still frequently ignored – in a world that’s moving too fast to stay in the present moment there is a constant struggle between looking at the here and now and planning for the future.

Time is always under the microscope: most of the time there just isn’t enough time to invest in developing the talent of your team members or employees.

Successful businesses foster strong learning cultures

Cultivating a thriving learning culture is a delicate balance between formal training and supportive coaching: and employees are what make an enterprise flourish.

With this in mind, talent development may seem pretty easy: training sessions and that’s it, right?


The one thing people forget when it comes to learning

What’s the main thing people forget when it comes to learning? This is, of course, that everyone learns in different ways. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to training. Therefore it’s very important to personalize your training with detailed learning paths designed to fit each individual. After all, you’re investing in the future of your team or company, and it’s vital to get it right the first time.

This means that you can’t just set and forget your development guidance: you need to foster a culture of learning. A solid learning culture will support you in the development of your team or staff so that they can not only be the best version of themselves, but they can grow into compelling leaders.

The emotional intelligence factor

Great leaders have the ability to cultivate strong personal relationships with those they work with based on their ability to relate to and empathize with others. With emotionally intelligent leaders, you can be sure that your top executives will always be looking for ways to continue learning and growing within the enterprise.

How do you begin to develop emotionally intelligent leaders? You take a long, hard look at your learning culture.

Top-performing organizations are five times more likely to have learning cultures, signifying that a culture of learning is a key factor in industry success.

“An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage,” according to Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric.

A quote from Steve Garguilo, speaking about Johnson & Johnson, sums it up perfectly:

“ …by empowering more people in your organization, that’s where huge change happens.”

Check out his Ted Talk on corporate change, by the way, to find out more about fostering innovation and positive change in your organization.

Getting started

Talent is the most important resource you can tap into in the world of business. The key to encouraging the growth of the talent you already have is to remember that sustainable processes support the development of your staff.

Think long-term.

The first step in developing your team is to create a development plan. No surprises there, but an often overlooked part of the process involves actually sitting down with your trainee and discussing individual interests and career goals.

It is essential to set quantitative metrics to help your trainee flesh out their goals, and to realize what they can realistically achieve.

It’s not so hard to get started, once you have your plan in place. You could easily jump right in by leveraging real world problems as opportunities for learning, for example.

Go a step further by creating opportunities for your trainee to take on new responsibilities outside of their job description. This cross-training will increase their awareness and knowledge of the organization as a whole. It’s up to you to knock down silos and come up with a system that encourages different kinds of learning within the learning culture of your company.

Want to learn more?

Whether you’re looking for more in-depth, structured advice on talent development or you’re wondering what all of this means for you or your business: Get on the fast track by contacting us. We’re always ready to talk.

Written by Steven Geelen Business Development Manager