Developing Talent From Within Your Organization

Training & Development  |  April 4, 2019

You think of yourself as a pretty lucky employer: You’ve taken the time to always hire the person who you feel will be the right fit for a position: A candidate looks great on paper, but more important than that, they are even better in person.

During the interview process, you knew that each person would be an asset to your company. You have sensed that everyone you’ve hired had the potential to grow in their roles, and you hope that they’ll stick around for a long time. You know that your employees are the reason your company is successful, and you want them to feel invested in that success.

If you want your employees to continue to grow, to expand their skills and knowledge of your industry, to contribute to the growth of your company, and stick around, you can’t rest on your laurels. You have to continue to develop talent at your organization. According to an August 2018 Gallup report, 34% of employees felt engaged at work. Yikes! And that was the highest engagement had been since Gallup started tracking employee engagement in 2000, tying with a March 2016 report.

By investing time and energy into your employees’ continued success, you are communicating that you respect them, that you have confidence in their abilities, and that you want them to continue to become even better than they currently are. That goes a long way to motivating employees who may sometimes wonder what the boss is thinking!

So how do you do that?  

You need to make talent development a priority, not something that you focus on once a month when you have a free hour. You know that your business is successful because of your employees. Think about how the development of employee talent informs the goals of your company and allows you to reach them.

With that in mind, here are 8 ideas to get you started:

Idea #1: Create individual development plans with each employee

You want your employees to be invested in both their own development and in your company. Asking them to share both their own interests (that can be brought to their work) and their career goals can help you both pinpoint what types of development activities would be most beneficial for them. No two employees are the same, even those who currently are in the same department, or even who have the same role in the department. Creating individual development plans allows you and each employee to be on the same page so that you can create together a helpful and realistic plan of action for reaching the goals by capitalizing on an employee’s interests and current strengths.

Idea #2: Provide performance metrics

Once you have identified goals, you need to provide an employee with quantitative metrics so that they are able to clearly see what they can realistically achieve and what they need to work toward now. Measuring progress allows an employee to know whether the activity is actually effective.

If it isn’t, you can discuss possible changes that need to be made. It also allows the employee to experience a sense of accomplishment as goals are met and the proverbial bar is raised. This provides an individual with further motivation to keep working since they are able to clearly see results.

Idea #3: Provide opportunities outside of home departments

Allow employees to work outside of their own departments. This allows them to gain a deeper understanding of how your organization works, the necessity of each department’s role, and how the departments work together to achieve organizational goals.

Your employees will have the opportunity to learn new skills, to hone their own skills as they apply them to new situations, and to collaborate and learn with coworkers.

Idea #4: Provide constructive and positive feedback

No one likes being criticized, shamed, or being treated like a two-year-old. When you offer feedback, it should be constructive and provide an employee with concrete suggestions for improvement or development. It should be tied to observed actions and behaviors.

Do not wait for an annual performance review. Regular discussions allow both you and your employees to understand how you view their work and their progress. It allows employees the opportunity to ask for additional help, guidance, or clarification. You may both discover that you had different understandings of a particular task, and so that can be corrected. It also allows you both to address minor issues before they become larger problems. Remember, positive feedback is just as important as constructive. You want to reinforce the positive behaviors you want to see and a kind word or a quick reinforcement with a quick comment when you notice positive behaviors is really important too!

Idea #5: Facilitate the interaction of employees

Employers should make it easier for employees to engage in cross-functional development, and to work together, across departments, and across the entire organization. Employees want to work regularly with colleagues outside their own departments. If employers facilitate opportunities for the growth of all employees together, not just individually, they will see a measurable difference in employees’ productivity and in the company’s evolution.

Idea #6: Help employees become part of a professional network

Employers should use their standing in their industry to put their employees in touch with others who can help them continue to evolve in their current role. Introduce them to potential mentors, pay for their membership in your industry’s professional association(s). Provide training opportunities, and host networking events. These opportunities allow them to broaden their professional circles, to find additional sources of advice, support, and information. And, they serve as another ambassador for the work that they, and your organization, do.

Idea #7: Use resources to benefit employees

Employees are, first and foremost, people, but they are also an investment your organization is making, and on which it should get a return. That only happens if you keep making investments during the time that an employee is with your organization.

While that does not always mean spending money, it does mean time and attention or focus spent on an employee. Where you can, you should also invest monetarily in workshops, coaching sessions, training and other activities that facilitate employee development. Partnering with an outside training organization can greatly benefit your employees and your company.

Not sure what to ask?  That’s OK! We have a list of questions to get you started.  Firms that specialize in training employees are at the top of their instructional design game and can help you figure out what will be the most beneficial to your employees! When these activities are implemented so that they advance and achieve the goals of your organization, and an employee’s individual goals, they are worthy investments.    

Idea #8: Be an example

As a leader, you should also invest in your own continued development. By modeling this for your employees, and by being transparent about it, you are helping to foster a culture of continuous development at your organization, making it clear that continuous development is necessary, expected, and will be supported and encouraged.

Employees will also appreciate and understand that the organization truly values them and their continued development when everyone, including the boss, is doing it.

If you’re ready to incorporate talent development activities in your own organization, KnowledgeForce can help. Our innovative, application-oriented solutions make learning fun and improve outcomes. Contact us today.

Read our comprehensive employer guide on talent development.

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