talent development

What is Talent Development and Why Does it Matter?

What is Talent Development?

Talent development is the organizational process of positioning employees for career advancement in a way that aligns with the company’s mission. This includes identifying workers’ aptitude and goals and helping them develop the knowledge and skills they need to achieve those goals and fill the needs of the company. Talent development program activities can range from mentoring and coaching to formal training, leadership development, succession planning, on-the-job learning and more.

Benefits of Talent Development

Talent development is a win-win. It offers several advantages to employees, while providing serious value to organizations. Here are a few of the ways that companies benefit from talent development programs.

Increase Productivity and Performance

Employees who participate in talent development programs tend to:

  • Understand their roles better and actively work to gain the skills they need to be successful
  • Have better-defined goals and a good idea of the skills and experience they will need for their future career
  • Be more engaged because they have a clear career path

All of this contributes to better performance and higher productivity because employees have the motivation, understanding, skills and tools to maximize their impact.

Attract Better Candidates

For job candidates, career prospects and future opportunities are an important part of evaluating a potential employer. Having a talent development program in place can go a long way toward attracting well-qualified and ambitious hires. Candidates may become aware of a company’s talent development opportunities through recruiting efforts or by word of mouth from existing employees who have benefited.

Having a talent development program may help attract high-quality candidates even if they aren’t aware of the program. Employees of organizations that offer talent development tend to be more engaged, loyal and will promote the company as a great place to work—an important source of credible information for potential hires.

Improve Legal Compliance

Talent development programs should include training in areas such as non-discrimination and fostering an inclusive culture. Organizations that ingrain these values in the workforce through training show they are serious about their values and set clear expectations for behavior among workers. Training in law-related matters can also contribute to improved legal compliance.

Develop Standards for Employee Performance

One of the important goals of talent development is to increase performance across an organization. By helping employees gain skills and experience in a personalized way, companies ensure higher capability levels and better performance and raise the bar for the entire workforce.

Increase Customer Satisfaction

Employees who take part in talent development tend to be more engaged in their work. And engaged employees have been shown to offer better customer service. When employees have a great experience with their company, they are more likely to want to authentically and enthusiastically share that experience, resulting in happier customers.


How Talent Management Differs from Talent Development

Talent management encompasses all the human resources processes related to:

  • Attracting quality candidates
  • Effectively onboarding hires
  • Retaining employees

Talent development is the part of this process that relates to making sure employees:

  • Grow in skills and experience
  • Contribute within the company
  • Meet their goals, aligned with company needs, over the long term

While talent management and talent development are closely entwined, they have different areas of emphasis.

1. Talent Management Focuses on Different Goals Than Talent Development

Talent management is an organizational strategy for finding and keeping talent, using a big-picture view of the entire company. Talent development, meanwhile, centers on helping individuals define their personal goals, create their own career paths and develop competencies and skills that fit their own needs, as well as the needs of the organization.

2. Talent Management is Strategic while Talent Development is Specific

Talent management focuses on creating a talent pipeline and making the most of the talent that joins the company. Talent development, on the other hand, offers specific individuals opportunities for growth.

3. Talent Development is Created Specifically for an Employee

Talent management takes a high-level view to determine which skills and talents an organization needs. Talent development, meanwhile, narrows that view to help employees advance in their individual career paths and reach their goals in ways that contribute to the success of the company.

4. Talent Development Goes Beyond Just Training

Training is an important part of talent management. But talent development also includes elements such as mentoring and coaching, job shadowing, and on-the-job experience—all of which can help employees identify their goals, earn the capabilities they need to reach those goals and improve performance.

Talent Development vs. Talent Management

Why Developing Talent in the Workplace Matters

Finding, keeping, and developing the right talent is crucial to any company’s success. Amidst the Great Reshuffle, workers know they have options. When candidates look at organizations with talent development programs, they see opportunities to grow their skills and shape their futures. Offering talent development is also key for retaining workers once they are hired. And talent development is important for addressing a growing skills gap that could pose serious obstacles to many organizations.

How to Start a Talent Development Program

If you want to develop a successful talent development that offers the company value over the long term, building a strong foundation from the beginning is crucial. Obtaining buy-in and support from senior leadership is a must, as is careful and deliberate planning. Starting steps include:

Define Your Company’s Goals

What does the company hope to achieve through a talent development program? This is a key question to answer in detail before you begin designing your program. Some common goals can include:

  • Attracting high-quality candidates
  • Engaging, motivating, and retaining top employees
  • Meeting the company’s larger goals by creating a high-performance workforce
  • Filling the skills gap between company needs and employee capabilities

Secure stakeholder support

This is the make it or break it step. As you know, the key to implementing any new system in an organization is having the backing of upper management. Without the support of the right people, your talent development program will never get its feet off the ground. You are going to need time and money to start up a new program, so you must present a strong case for the program. Leveraging your statement of purpose will be key in gaining support of upper management.

  • Keep in mind that your prospective participants are also stakeholders. In the end, if participants are not willing or able to utilize the program to its fullest, it will fail.
  • Take a step back and evaluate the current corporate culture. Will the culture support a program like this? Is this a good match for your company?

Identify Required Skills for Each Position

In order to understand which skills are needed, each position should be evaluated in terms of the skills and capabilities required for success. This exercise is the first step in identifying skills gaps that need to be filled throughout the organization.

Assess Employee’s Skill Sets

The second part of identifying skills gaps is to evaluate skill sets among current employees, using tests, surveys, and interviews. When these are assessed and compared with the skills that are needed, the company’s skills gaps will come into focus.

Interview Employees to Discover Hidden Talents and Interests

Individual growth is the heart of talent development, and this starts with finding out which areas employees are interested in, as well as which talents and skills they have that might not be obvious. Talent development interviews provide an opportunity for employees to reveal existing capabilities, as well as the ones they are interested in developing.

Design Individual Training Programs

Training no longer has to mean courses taught face-to-face in a classroom setting— although this may be effective for some kinds of training. But there are plenty of other options for training and development, such as:

  • Individual coaching and mentoring
  • On-demand online learning
  • Live digital training, including webinars

While the medium may be any of the above, a mix of more than one, or something completely new, the objective is to design opportunities that will engage employees and help them learn effectively and efficiently.

Microlearning Modules

Microlearning modules use technology to deliver bite-sized content to learners, focusing on the essentials that the learner needs to know. Generally, these types of modules last no more than no more than 13 minutes at a time, although research shows that segments between two and five minutes are considered the most effective.

Microlearning can be a powerful way for employees to absorb knowledge, especially when the learning outcome is specific and focused. Evidence shows that learners often retain information better if it is delivered in small, manageable chunks. Microlearning also allows learners to control their own learning experience by setting their own schedule and going at their own pace.

Coaching and Mentorship

Coaching and mentorship increase talent retention, promotion rates and employee satisfaction for mentors and mentees.

Starting a successful mentoring program takes thoughtful planning, support from leaders and stakeholders, effective matching of mentors and mentees, and proper preparation of all participants. But the long-term rewards of an effective mentoring program are well the effort in terms of organizational cohesion, inclusion, leadership development and succession planning, retaining and building institutional knowledge, an overall stronger company culture and more.

Review and Evaluate

It is important to monitor success throughout the program, not just at the very end. Look for weak spots and fix them as the program goes instead of waiting until the end to do so.

  • Obtain feedback from participants. Listen to what they think about their experience in the program. Do they feel their goals are being reached? The easiest way to do this is with a survey, or questionnaire. To gain richer feedback, think about facilitating a few focus groups or one-on-one interviews with employees.
  • Go back to your statement of purpose from the very beginning of the process. Looking at it retrospectively, is the program accomplishing what you set out to accomplish in the first place? If the answer is yes, than you can trust that you have built a viable program that will launch the organization into a successful future.

Create and Sustain a Continuously Learning Company Culture

It’s important to offer effective and engaging training and learning opportunities for employees to help them develop their skills and capabilities. And fostering a culture of continuous learning can help companies double down on talent development. When employees know that inquiry is highly encouraged and that the company values worker learning, they are more likely to seek these opportunities, create their own and make consistent growth a priority.

How Chronus Can Help

Chronus helps organizations implement effective mentoring programs by eliminating the manual processes that can get in the way. Chronus software streamlines the process of creating and administering mentoring initiatives with features including AI-powered matching to produce successful mentoring partnerships, analytical reporting to showcase impact to stakeholders and virtual integrations to keep participants engaged and on track. Administrators don’t have to do all the heavy lifting themselves, while mentors and mentees benefit with the structure, support and resources they need to be successful.

The Bottom Line

Talent development is an advanced organizational strategy that can have a big impact on the success of an organization and its workforce. It’s important for companies to set these programs up carefully with a strong foundation of leadership support, professional expertise and best practices. Once talent development is established, the benefits will only build in a virtuous cycle.

The more that employees take advantage of talent development opportunities, the more highly skilled they become and the more the fulfillment of their personal goals helps the company reach its objectives. This helps eliminate skills gaps, smooths succession paths, and contributes to the overall success of the company. As a company becomes more successful, it can better attract the best candidates and retain its best workers, who help raise standards throughout the organization. In the best of all worlds, employees are engaged and working toward goals that are meaningful to them, while spurring the organization as a whole toward realizing its own mission.

Talent development is an investment in people—one that can reap huge rewards for companies and their employees.

icon-angle icon-bars icon-times