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According to the New York Times best-selling author John Maxwell, “The single biggest way to impact an organization is to focus on leadership development. There is almost no limit to the potential of an organization that recruits good people, raises them up as leaders, and continually develops them.”

Developing your employees to reach their full talent potential fosters an environment of growth, which can also increase employee retention rates. However, 63% of millennials report to feeling a lack of leadership development within the companies where they currently work. This lack of prioritization on the success of the “workforce of tomorrow” can lead to highly motivated and talented employees leaving to find work elsewhere. Though it’s essential to recruit new talent, it’s equally as important to focus on retaining current employees.

Creating a successful talent development plan can require a great deal of research, planning, and thorough execution. With the correct tools and processes in place, your employees will have the ability to grow into higher positions within your company.

Conduct industry research

Leadership development is a hot topic in the business world recently, with many companies putting talent management at the top of their priority list. Researching other companies who have built successful talent development plans can be a good starting point for creating one for your own organization.

Resources that you have available to you, such as search engines, news articles, and expert interviews, can all be insightful places to learn more about the strategies others are using. You should also take a look at the current workforce trends that could affect your strategic plans. Take a specific period (ex. the last 5-10 years) to see what may have a strong influence on talent development plans, such as culture or politics.

Develop an effective management strategy

Ineffective management can have a strong negative impact on your organization’s talent management strategy. Such issues as disengaged employees, high turnover rates, and low productivity can result from poor leaders with little to no training being placed in management positions. Shocking new statistics have revealed that 98% of managers believe their company has not provided them with adequate training.

When transitioning into a management position for the first time, training can be vital. When new managers are given a lack of support during this change, it could result in difficult challenges down the road such as, unsafe work environments, loss of customers, and unhappy employees. Because of this, a strong focus should be placed on investing in the development of your leadership.

As a manager, it’s important to build a professional relationship with your team to help motivate employees to reach their full potential. Hosting regular performance check-ins and ongoing career conversations can be invaluable tools. It’s crucial for each employee to feel like they have a sense of direction in their careers with your company, rather than coming to work each day to get the job done.

Work together to create an individualized development plan for each of your employees. Ask questions that will help you both uncover the goals and interests they may have for their career so you can work together to establish a career plan. Each target should have a realistic time frame attached to it. Provide constructive feedback throughout the process to ensure upward or lateral movement is achievable at each stage.

Create a strong framework

Creating a talent development program requires a robust framework. This framework should provide both a basis to work from and a starting place to return to when projects need to be revised. The most important place to start is identifying your mission and vision for the program. Having both of these laid out establishes a basis of consistency for all communications carried out under this program. It’s important to keep the organization and employees in mind when creating mission and vision statements.

Consider what your organization hopes to achieve with the launch of a talent development program. Also, consider what your metrics of success for the program will look like. Ask yourselves this: if the program is not successful the first time, are you willing to try again? You will also need to evaluate which resources may be required for this program to operate. These resources should be planned and budgeted for in the early stages of development.

Once you have a strong framework in place, consider using a small test group to roll the program out to so you can measure the performance before a company-wide roll out occurs. Be sure there is an assigned individual or department responsible for overseeing the implementation and evaluation of the project. Additionally, all other roles and responsibilities should be communicated appropriately.

Encourage cross-functional training

Having a baseline understanding of the roles and responsibilities of each department in the company helps employees gain valuable insight. This insight is useful for those working toward management positions or moving to other departments. One of the best ways to gain insight into these outside roles is to encourage cross-functional communication and training.

Make sure cross-functional training is viewed as a beneficial opportunity for both employees and the company, rather than an obligation. Not all employees will want to move positions; some may feel comfortable in their current role. For employees who are excited about an opportunity such as this, however; it can be a valuable learning experience.

Mentorship programs are effective for cross-functional training. Employees who participate in a mentorship program have shown to be five times more likely to receive a promotion and 44% less likely to leave a company. By creating an open learning environment that encourages a free exchange of ideas and knowledge, both mentors and mentees may benefit from one another.

Create a resource library of materials and a dedicated team of individuals to help facilitate the pilot of your mentorship program. For example, training videos from trusted online sources or other companies who have had success with mentorship programs can provide a strong basis to work from. Strategize monthly focuses with your team that helps increase the skillsets of all employees. The best place to start with this is by surveying participating employees to see what they may be interested in learning.

It’s important to use a unified system to store the resources used in your programs. A cloud talent management system can help with this by organizing the systems needed for training and establishing a curriculum for mentoring programs. With this software, you’ll also be able to gain insight into course completion and goal progression, helping to manage the success of the program.

Re-evaluate your strategy regularly

Any successful training program requires consistent analysis to ensure it’s running smoothly. Tracking employee growth and progression in a timely manner can help ensure your program’s success.

Start by measuring employees against their set goals. Are your employees reaching them by the date initially proposed? If not, what can they, or you, do differently over the next period to achieve these goals?

When analyzing the program’s success, it’s also essential to consider the level of employee satisfaction at this point. Though they may not have moved positions yet, do you both feel that they are still on track to progress eventually?

Creating a talent development program may take a great deal of effort to fully implement, yet the results can be beneficial for everyone involved. Every organization needs a workforce that is ready to meet the needs of the future, and many employees enjoy being rewarded through promotions and recognition for the work they are doing. To accomplish this, you’ll need a strong team of individuals and an overall willingness to make these investments happen. Once achieved, your business will be ready to take on the demands of the future of leadership.

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