9 Talent Development Strategies (Including Initiative Types)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 26, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When organizations invest their time and resources into developing talent, they're more likely to keep talented professionals. With support from organizations, professionals also have the opportunity to develop their abilities and grow in their field. Whether you're a manager responsible for developing talent or a professional planning your career goals and seeking support, you can benefit from learning more about talent development. In this article, we discuss what talent development is, explain why it's important, share seven strategies you can use to develop talent, and provide a list of initiatives you might use.

What is talent development?

Talent development is when an organization capitalizes on the abilities and strengths of its professionals and takes steps to help them develop. These steps may involve formal training or informal support and opportunities for development. Training and development begin with managers recognizing the potential of their team members and then developing their strengths and interests. Then, they place these professionals in positions that best suit their potential. For example, if a professional develops into a strong presenter, their manager might request they present information to the client.

Developing talent can also include discussions between managers and team members about their professional development plan. A professional development plan is a professional's goals for their career. It might consist of short-term goals, like where they hope to be in six months or a year, and long-term goals, like where they hope to be in three years. When planning, they consider the steps they can take to achieve their goal and how the organization can support them. Talent development is a subset of talent management, which is a broader strategy organizations use to attract and keep professionals with great potential.

Read more: What Is Talent Management? (Plus Talent Management Processes and Tips)

Why is developing talent important?

Talent development is important because it's a tactic that benefits both the professional and the organization. It helps professionals gain skills, experience, and confidence to excel in their roles and progress in their careers. When professionals develop their skills and feel like the organization invests in their development, they're more likely to give their best efforts, which benefits the organization. Organizations who actively develop their talent are also more likely to keep their most skilled professionals, as they offer them support and opportunities for growth. This helps organizations avoid hiring and training new professionals.

Developing talent also allows professionals to pursue the career path they want by following their aspirations and areas of interest. For example, a professional might express an interest in becoming a marketing manager so that an organization can connect this individual with the current marketing manager for a mentorship. When professionals determine their own goals and have the organization's support, they're more likely to work hard to achieve them. Typically, this personal experience also makes professionals enjoy their work more.

Read more: What Is Talent Acquisition? (With Steps and Tips)

7 strategies to develop talent

There are various strategies to consider when developing talent within an organization. The most effective strategies have thorough planning, are intentional, and are well-executed. Here are seven strategies you can implement to promote professional growth within an organization:

1. Design effective development initiatives

To develop talent, organizations can design effective development initiatives. Development initiatives are training plans that an organization uses to encourage development within its professionals. Typically, successful development initiatives involve collaboration, resources, and repetition. Many individuals benefit from experiential learning, where they learn a new skill, and then practise it. For example, a trainer might demonstrate how to use a piece of equipment and then encourage the trainees to try using it in the same way. Organizations can benefit from accepting feedback from trainees about the quality of the training. For example, when the training concludes, they can distribute surveys.

Read more: Professional Development Courses You Can Pursue

2. Ensure managers regularly coach their team members

Organizations can encourage managers to schedule recurring coaching sessions with their team members. These coaching sessions might include demonstrations of specific tasks, discussing development plans, and providing tips on developing particular skills. These meetings can also improve the working relationships between managers and team members. Also, team members likely feel motivated to perform well when they know their manager cares about their professional development and offers them guidance and support.

Read more: What Is Employee Coaching? (With Benefits and Tips)

3. Establish the organization's mission

It's easier to develop talent when an organization has a well-communicated mission and goals. Establishing these can give the organization a better understanding of what skills they require from their professionals. It also offers professionals distinct and measurable goals they can work to achieve.

Read more: How to Write a Personal Mission Statement (With Examples)

4. Get organization executives invested in developing talent

For entire organizations to adjust their cultures, it often requires top executives to engage in the developing talent. It's crucial that organization leaders understand their impact on all professionals. These executives likely have exceptional skills to share with other professionals and help them develop. Also, when professionals know that individuals in executive roles care about their professional development, they're more likely to want to work diligently for the organization.

5. Identify the organization's goals and needs

For an organization to foster skills through developing its talent, it can benefit from identifying any skills the organization requires but currently lacks. For example, an organization might require an individual with strong presentation skills to present new information to a client. Once the organization identifies this need, it can find a professional that shows potential and wants to develop this skill and then train them to excel as a presenter. Organizations can benefit from listing their goals and the required skills to help ensure they achieve these goals. From this list, they can identify any skills their professionals lack.

Read more: 13 Ways to Set Professional Goals (Plus Their Importance)

6. Make developing talent a key aspect of the organization's culture

To develop talent continuously, it's important that it's an integral part of an organization's culture. When this occurs, the organization strives to develop each professional, regardless of their role, to become the most adept professional possible. When an organization has this culture, it can easily attract top talent when looking to fill open positions. Many professionals want to work for organizations that care about their development and offer growth opportunities. Organizations can reward professionals who continually learn and progress to nurture a growth mindset. These organizations can also promote idea sharing and allow their professionals to try using new skills.

7. Re-evaluate and adjust strategies when necessary

It's important to realize that if any strategies to develop talent aren't working at an organization, it's okay to re-evaluate and adjust the strategy or try using a different one. What works well for developing one professional's talent might not work well for another. For example, one professional might learn best from taking a formal training course, while another prefers the personal aspect of one-on-one mentorship. Continuously assess the effectiveness of the organization's initiatives and discover what's working well and what can benefit from the change.

Read more: What Is the Lewin Change Model and How Can You Apply It?

Types of initiatives for developing talent

As there are various ways to develop talent, it's important to choose an initiative that seems like the best fit for the organization. Potential initiatives range from informal on-the-job training to formal education programs. Here are four types of initiatives you can use to develop talent within an organization:

1. Formal internal programs

If the organization has sufficient resources, it can create in-house development and training programs. An organization might start an ongoing program where professionals can develop specific technical skills that prepare them for particular roles at the organization. For example, there might be a monthly program dedicated to developing leadership skills.

Read more: Understanding the Importance of Training Employees

2. Individualized growth plans

Many organizations that hope to develop and keep their talent use individualized growth plans. These plans are unique to each professional, depending on their career goals, and include actionable and targeted steps. A manager might take time each month to meet with their team members and discuss the professional's strengths, weaknesses, and goals. Managers can help ensure their team members engage by asking open-ended questions about the individual's career plans.

Read more: How to Develop a Career Plan (With Six Steps to Follow)

3. Mentorship opportunities

Some organizations offer mentorship opportunities, where a professional learns skills and takes advice from an individual in a more senior role. For example, a teacher might mentor their assistant, teaching them effective teaching strategies and advising. Mentors in any role can offer professional guidance, even if the mentee doesn't have goals of achieving the same role as the mentor. It's more important that the mentor excels in the skills the mentee is hoping to develop. For example, a professional in HR with strong communication skills might be a mentor to a new employee in customer service.

Read more: 13 Important Mentorship Skills and Why They Matter

4. Partnerships with outside providers

Organizations might also partner with external providers that offer educational experiences that they cannot provide in-house. These experiences can be in-person, online, or a hybrid of both. For example, there are organizations committed to professional development that teach professionals specific skills that can help them excel in their fields.

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