Talent Development: How To Maximize Employee Skills

Talent Development: How To Maximize Employee Skills

If you have a committed and talented team of individuals working at your company, the worst management decision you can make is to allow their skills to stagnate. Instead, managers should be actively looking for ways to develop their employees’ talents.

Think of your employees not as a means to bring in profit each week, but as a pool of untapped potential that could be doing even better things for your company in the future with the right training and development.

Why should you develop your employee talent pool?

It’s no secret that developing the skills and talents of your employees is highly beneficial for their job satisfaction and future careers — and it comes with more than a few benefits for your company, too.

When you invest in your employees’ growth, you’re creating a workforce that’s more engaged and better equipped to take on new challenges. Plus, employee talent development can help improve team dynamics and boost productivity.

Skill development can be costly and time-consuming, however; so is it really all that essential? The answer is a resounding yes. Here are four key reasons to focus on employee talent development:

Attract and retain top talent

Talented employees are a hot commodity, and if you want to keep them, you need to offer opportunities for growth. By providing learning and development programs, you’re signaling that you’re committed to your employees’ success and that you’re willing to invest in their future.

Promote innovation

In order to stay competitive, companies need to constantly innovate. And who better to spearhead this process than your talented employees? When you give them the opportunity to learn new skills and develop their talents, they’ll be more creative and innovative in their work.

Improve team dynamics

A well-developed employee talent pool can help improve team dynamics by creating a more positive and productive work environment. When employees feel valued and supported, they’re more likely to collaborate and cooperate with one another.

Boost productivity

Productivity is key to any business’s success, and it’s often directly linked to employee talent development. By giving employees the opportunity to learn new skills and grow their abilities, you enable them to produce better work results.

So, how can you tap into this potential and develop your employees’ talents? Let’s explore some methods you can implement within your company.

twelve people attending a talent development seminar

Choose a strategy and commit to it

Developing your employees’ talents is usually a lesson in delayed gratification, as it can take time to see the fruits of your labor. Because of this, many HR reps may find themselves pushing employee development to the bottom of their priority list.

However, a study from Bersin by Deloitte found that companies with highly developed talent management strategies achieve higher revenue than their peers — so prioritizing employee development will certainly be worth your while.

To make sure your talent development initiatives are paying off, it’s best to choose a strategy and commit to it. Whether you decide to focus on leadership development, skills training, or career pathing, make sure you have a plan and track progress regularly.

So, what should your plan of attack look like? Let’s peruse the options.

Career pathing

One of the most effective ways to maximize employee talent development is to provide clear career paths for employees to follow. By creating a roadmap for employees, you can help them see the potential opportunities and growth within your company. Additionally, your employees will better understand what they need to do in order to progress in their careers.

There are many different ways to create a career path for employees. Some companies prefer to use a ladder-style approach, in which employees move up through different levels of the company as they gain experience and skills. Others use a more fluid approach that allows for more flexibility in how employees progress in their careers.

No matter which approach you choose, it’s important to make sure that the path is clear and easy to understand. Employees should know what skills they need to acquire in order to progress, and they should have regular opportunities for feedback so that they can track their progress.

two people shaking their hands across a wooden table

To create an employee career path:

  1. Define the skills and experience required for each level of the path.
  2. Outline the steps employees need to take in order to progress up the path.
  3. Provide regular feedback to employees on their progress.
  4. Encourage employees to take advantage of training and development opportunities.
  5. Celebrate employees’ progress at each milestone along the path.

An added benefit of the career pathing approach is that it effectively doubles as your succession plan because you’ll be preparing your employees for future roles and responsibilities.

Leadership development

Giving talented individuals greater responsibility is an effective way to develop their skills and assess their potential for growth. Leadership is a demanding responsibility, one that stretches employees and can reveal their abilities and limitations — and as such, leadership development is a great talent growth strategy.

When promoting talented employees into leadership roles, it is important to provide them with the necessary tools and training to be successful. This includes both formal training programs and on-the-job coaching and mentoring.

For example, a sales manager who is promoted to a sales director role may need training in budgeting, forecasting, and team management. A graphic designer who is promoted to art director may need training in marketing and client relations.

It is also important to provide employees with the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. Leaders should be given the freedom to make decisions and learn from their own experiences, as this allows them to develop their own leadership style and grow into their new roles.

Mentorship and leadership development

One of the best ways to move employees into new positions of responsibility is by assigning them a mentor. A mentor can help an employee learn the ropes in their new role and provide valuable advice and support.

two people talking about talent development while sitting down on white chairs

Mentorship also helps to foster a culture of learning and development within an organization. Employees who are given the opportunity to learn from their mentors are more engaged and motivated, and are more likely to stay with the organization long-term.

In order for mentorship to be effective, it is important to match mentors and mentees based on their personalities and skillsets. The mentor should also have the time and resources to invest in the relationship.

Skills training

This is perhaps the most obvious talent development method — but if done poorly, it can also be the most ineffective. Skills training has a reputation of being boring, irrelevant, and a waste of time. Done well, however, it can be an extremely valuable way to help employees develop the skills they need to do their jobs effectively.

One key to effective skills training is ensuring that it is tailored to the individual employees who are participating in it. Training should not be a one-size-fits-all approach — it should be based on each employee’s needs and interests.

Additionally, trainers should make sure that the training is interactive and engaging so that employees are actually learning rather than just sitting through a lecture.

To conduct effective skills training, employers should:

  • Tailor training to individual employees’ needs and interests
  • Make sure that the training is interactive and engaging
  • Use a variety of methods to deliver the training, including lectures, hands-on activities, and online courses
  • Encourage employees to ask questions and participate in the training
  • Follow up with employees after the training to ensure that they are using the new skills in their work

Remember that some of the best skills training your employees can undertake is simple observation and shadowing. For example, if you have a new hire, allow them to spend time with an experienced employee in order to learn the ropes. This is a great way for employees to get up-to-speed quickly and learn the necessary skills for the job.

three people looking at talent development reports while sitting on a black sofa

Employee Talent Development: Final Thoughts

The strategies above will give you a solid means to develop your employees’ talents, but in addition to those, here are a few final tips to keep in mind:

  • Allow for autonomy in work. Employees who feel like they have some control over their work and the ability to make decisions are more engaged and motivated. This can be as simple as allowing them to choose their own tasks or projects, within reason.
  • Encourage creativity and risk-taking. Creativity and innovation are essential ingredients in a successful business, so encourage your employees to be creative and take risks. This can include giving them the freedom to experiment with new ideas, as well as providing feedback that is supportive rather than critical.
  • Offer learning and development opportunities. Employees want to feel like they are constantly learning and growing, so offer them a variety of learning and development opportunities. This could include everything from online courses to on-the-job training to attending industry conferences.
  • Celebrate successes. Recognize your employees’ accomplishments, both big and small. Not only does this make them feel appreciated, but it also encourages them to continue working hard and striving for success.

Developing employee talent can be a challenge, but following the strategies above can help you create a successful talent development program.