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Finding and developing talent – a ‘How-To’ guide

May 21, 2021

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  • EDITORIAL TEAM Talent Management Institute
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When it comes to managing the workforce of an organization, identifying the top talents is among the key responsibilities of the talent management team. This is not about just pinpointing the ones who have the highest performance ratings, but should in fact go beyond this simple measure to encompass those who:

  • Deliver the highest results
  • Deliver results consistently
  • Innovate on the job

Identifying and developing talent is not so straightforward.

Clearly, developing talent in the workplace is about more than just job performance. Long-term success in projects and attainment of business goals requires identifying success-critical traits for the organization, and these traits differ for each organization and within them, for each department. Hence, when it comes to how to find talent, it becomes imperative to see who consistently delivers results and demonstrates the requisite characteristics.

Characteristics of a talented employee

Leadership plays a key role.

At every level of a team, leadership must be deeply embedded. It allows staff members to excel in their roles, and the additional responsibilities make them feel empowered, which in turn makes their work all the more rewarding.

When looking to build talent, effective recruitment is a must. It brings abundant talent into the workforce, which must be carefully sifted and nurtured. Their ambitions could differ, but the right efforts at developing talent with the requisite support will help workforce members transform into leadership roles with time.

The search for talent is not always done right.

Talent has often been sought in the wrong places, or with undue emphasis on a culture fit. This often reduces diversity in composition and thinking, ultimately dragging down creativity and innovation. There may be no one right answer to ‘how to find a talent’, but the approaches of the past can definitely be bettered.

In the search for talent, what sets a great manager apart is a desire to lead the effort, expertise in the field, and a history of strong performance. The oft-missed skill, though, is talent management – a great manager must know how to develop talent. It is important not just to measure employee performance basis identified behaviors or characteristics, but also to develop a plan to manage employee talents.

Key abilities of a great manager

Talent management must be better implemented.

An improved HR strategy is key to enabling an effective talent manager and a well-aligned process of managing talent. Here are the key considerations:

How to prioritize talent

  • Define employee competencies: Look to the future and pick the requisite competencies accordingly.
  • Recruit right: Maintain high quality in the talent pool by hiring people with an eye on strategic skill requirements.
  • Implement 360° feedback and performance management: Establish a behavior and skills benchmark with feedback from multiple sources.
  • Offer talent development programs: Developing talent in the workplace becomes easier with support for new learning opportunities and alignment with corporate goals.

What does talent development really mean?

In simple terms, talent development seeks to capitalize on the abilities and strengths of employees with the aim of making them stronger candidates for growth within the company. It encompasses:

  • Spotting potential
  • Focusing on specific interests and competencies
  • Moving employees to best-fit areas
  • Examining team functioning for better results over time
  • Ensuring growth by developing talent

Is it important? Yes! Given how employees are spending more time at work than before, it is imperative for them to be made aware of how their work is making a difference. When they can learn and grow in their areas of interest, they become happier and more productive, and thus more likely to stick around.

Talent development requires the right approach.

Ambitions among different staff members tend to vary, but there are always individuals who could grow into managerial roles with the right development and support. Consider these numbers:

  • High-potential employees are 91 percent more valuable than others
  • A star performer in the team brings about a 5-15 percent boost in the effectiveness of other team members

Talented staff members are always in high demand, and giving them opportunities to develop their careers is intrinsic to retaining them within the fold. Conversely, failing in this endeavor makes it more likely that they will fly the coop. Developing talent in the workplace thus is critical, and must be deliberate, planned properly, and executed smoothly.

Here are the top considerations for developing good talents:

Top Considerations for talent development

  • Area of potential sought: Climbing the ladder may not be the most crucial contribution sought by the organization.
  • Identification of talented people: Set clear promotion criteria and assess performance objectively and reliably.
  • Key personality traits of talented people: Look for collaborative and goal-oriented people with passion and resilience.
  • Developing and retaining talented people: Do not fall into the 95 percent of organizations who neglect the development of talented people once they have been identified.
  • Recognizing their potential: Openly appreciate their work and encourage them by considering them for higher positions or programs.

Successful talent development is a concerted effort.

Developing talent successfully does not rest solely on the shoulders of the talent manager. Several factors must come together to make this work. Below is a list of the key ingredients:

  • Get a buy-in from the C-suite: Help them understand the impact of their leadership on the company, and encourage them to commit to employee growth.
  • Have a well-defined mission: Clearly communicate the mission and goals.
  • Identify requisite skills: In line with the mission, understand the required hard and soft skills and talents that employees must have.
  • Seek talent internally: Encourage employees with internal opportunities to utilize them better and expose them to more challenging work.
  • Design effective initiatives: Analyze training needs and ensure programs are delivered accordingly. Practice opportunities and trainee feedback are valuable add-ons.
  • Include coaching: Identify coaches across the organization with the requisite skills, who can check in with employees.
  • Make talent development a part of company culture: A growth mindset in the company culture necessitates the discovery and nurturing of talent as a matter of course.

In summation…

Identifying and developing talent at an organization is no cakewalk. Talent managers must develop future-forward strategies that play the long game without ignoring short-term goals. The right traits are essential for success, and these can often be found within the company folds. Challenge traditional norms with people who do not perpetuate the status quo. And rely on data – it is the best barometer of progress, and points not to get it right but to not get it wrong. A great manager must thus know not just the science but also how to put it in practice!

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