Talent Development in the Modern Workplace

Like just about everything else in organizational life, talent development is far more complex and unpredictable than it has been in years gone by. The pace of change is clearly responsible (and really doesn’t care!). 

Change complicates the process of attracting, engaging and retaining key talent. It is no longer a matter of simply hiring the functional capability required to fulfill an existing role. It is also very much about hiring people with the propensity to learn new things, operate effectively in an environment defined by ambiguity and successfully manage the conflicts that will inevitably present themselves.

What Is Talent Development and Management

As a discipline in and of itself, Talent Management consists of three main factors.

Targeting & Assessing

Identifying the necessary skill sets needed to drive value within your organization. This includes, but is not limited to, addressing gaps that exist between your current capacity and capability, as compared to where your organization has the potential to be and desires to be. With talent requirements established, a multitiered assessment process ensues. That process initiates with attracting and recruiting qualified candidates for further consideration.

Selecting & Integrating

Hiring candidates that have the best mix of functional background (experience and skill) and cultural compatibility from the identified pool of candidates. When candidates accept offers there are a series of crucial “moments of truth” where the new hire experiences the role and the culture for the first time. It is crucial that new hires have a positive introduction to the organization that provides an all-important, positive first impression (more on that in a minute!).

Developing & Retaining

We live in a dynamic world where very little remains the same for a very long time! As such, the ongoing efforts of the organization to train, upskill and reskill employees not only ensure they can continue to add value, but also contribute significantly to retention.

Upskilling and Reskilling

One thing we know is that when change hits, Performance Readiness® shifts. Employees who were operating in roles and performing tasks for which they had high levels of both ability and willingness can find themselves in circumstances where their experience and/or skill set is rendered outdated or obsolete very quickly! Two strategies to employ in proactive response to those impending realities are upskilling and reskilling:

  • Upskilling: A new way of thinking about and describing continuous learning. Upskilling acknowledges the advances that are inevitably on the way and is dedicated to helping employees remain both current and relevant within their chosen career path. This practice also actively recognizes the value of tenure within an organization and provides employees who have proven to be cultural fits with the ongoing opportunity to remain functionally viable.
  • Reskilling: Allows and encourages employees to learn new skills. These skills may have little or no direct impact on performance within the employee’s current role. It is a mechanism that allows organizations to tap into the passion employees have to expand their existing horizons by broadening their personal foundation of work-related capabilities and (most importantly) staying with the organization while they do so!

Once again, our world is dynamic. Nothing stays the same! A commitment to ongoing development is a key cornerstone of any Talent Development and Management strategy.

Onboarding Best Practices

There is truth in the age-old adage “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” The time, effort and energy your organization expends on targeting, assessing and selecting new hires can be put at risk if those new employees fail to get confirmation their decision to join your organization was a good one during their initial encounters. Here are some onboarding points to consider in that regard:

  • Preboarding – The trick here is to initiate almost immediately, but be sure not to overwhelm! The objective is to reinforce the decision the new hire just made to join the organization and provide them with further insight/background on your company and its culture while setting expectations for what the rest of the onboarding process will look like (whether in person or virtual).
  • Administration – Needs to be well organized, streamlined and executed at a pace that is comfortable for the recipient (think DiSC® or SOCIAL STYLE®). This is a necessary and important part of integration, but the less it can feel like a trip to the DMV the better!
  • Material and Mentors – The packet of information a new hire receives (electronic or hard copy) should be designed with purpose! It should be easy to read and understand and sequenced by priority (critical stuff first). This is a perfect time to pair the new hire with a mentor who can not only answer any questions that may arise regarding the welcome packet, but also other questions the new hire may have about anything that happens to be on their mind!
  • Structure and Culture – It will vary of course, but the first 30 to 60 to 90 days of a new hire’s experience should favor direction, structure and guidance. With so very much to learn, so very many questions will need to be answered around that learning! In Situational Leadership® terms think Leadership style S2 (High Task … but also … High Relationship Behavior). The majority of those style S2 efforts should be focused on indoctrinating the new hire to the culture of the organization, how it “flows,” and how to actively contribute to it or challenge it in a manner that incents productive dialogue.
  • It Starts at the Top – Whether virtually or face-to-face, top management involvement is critical! People want to hear from (and get to know) the people who have responsibility for the vision, mission and values of the organization.
  • “Work in Progress” – Onboarding is a process that should be under consistent scrutiny. How can it be made “better?” What can be done to improve it (in any way)?

Learn More About Leadership in the Modern Workplace

The Center for Leadership Studies (CLS) is the global home of the Situational Leadership® Model. Through programs like Situational Leadership® Essentials for managers and Situational Performance Ownership for individual contributors, CLS is helping leaders at all levels hit productivity targets, enhance employee engagement and retain key talent. And while “the war for talent” will continue and intensify, Situational Leaders will continue to be armed with strategies that have played a key role in talent management and development for over 50 years! At CLS we build leaders and drive behavior change!