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7 Talent Development Hacks to Improve Employee Performance

Check out why you should care about talent development & 7 talent development best practices for improving your employees’ performance here!

By Kate Dagher  •   January 31, 2023  •   7 min read

It may be the case that as more organizations and employees moved to remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, fewer efforts have been made to prioritize talent development. Chances are that your talent program may need to be revamped and revisited in 2023. There are many tactics that managers and the entire leadership team can use to unleash the potential of their employees. Investing in talent development not only improves the skills and abilities of employees, but also helps companies use their resources more effectively, retain top talent, and improve their organizational performance. 

Investing in talent development tactics is important for employee satisfaction and for company growth, which is why this article will cover what talent development is, how it compares to talent management, why your organization should care about talent development, and seven great talent development hacks you can use to improve employee performance. 

What is talent development? 

Talent development refers to any kind of efforts that are made to provide learning opportunities to employees, including any talent management initiatives, employee development options, and efforts to improve employee engagement and satisfaction. Talent development opportunities serve as a means to help employees reach their potential and simultaneously support an organization in achieving its business goals. This could be attained through improving processes, systems, or frameworks for training and development or could take a more person-centered approach through meeting with employees one-on-one and discussing how each individual would like to reach their career goals. 

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Difference between talent development and talent management 

Talent development refers to personalized or individualized learning and development paths for each employee. This means that each team member should have a talent development plan that is aligned with their interests, strengths, and career aspirations. Alternatively, talent management refers to an organizational strategy and overall talent program that is offered throughout the company. Talent management includes initiatives for the recruiting process (including hiring and onboarding), talent retention, and succession planning.

Why should your organization care about talent development? 

1Fosters innovation

When you encourage and support your employees in learning new things, you foster innovation because your employees are more likely to bring ideas and knowledge from training and development opportunities into meetings, brainstorming sessions, and other conversations at work. Innovative contributions can source new streams of revenue and attract new clients, customers, and opportunities. 

2Reduces skills gaps

Investing in talent development and talent programs means that you can work towards reducing skills gaps in your workforce. When you identify where the skills gaps are in your team or across the entire organization, you can focus your talent development approach with each employee to work towards reducing these gaps so you can hit your goals with improved efficiency. 

3Increases employee retention

Talent development initiatives help improve employee retention because employees appreciate that their manager is investing in their careers and in their growth. This helps foster trust, and in turn, employees are more likely to remain loyal to the organization. Make sure that you’re meeting regularly with your employees to understand what interests and motivates them. 

4Encourages growth 

A focus on talent development encourages growth in your employees and in your organization. When continuously learning, growing, and evolving is normalized and is expected of employees, people will feel motivated to continue participating in opportunities where they can grow both personally and professionally. In turn, the organization is better able to meet its goals as well. 

5Improves employee engagement

When you focus on your employees, this encourages engaged employees who are driven to improve their performance, productivity, and results. It’s essential to support your employees in designing a personalized career path for themselves that considers their skills, interests, and aspirations so they can succeed. 

6Boosts productivity

Investing in your employees’ learning and development means they’ll be better prepared to tackle their tasks and responsibilities with a higher degree of effectiveness. This means that employees can achieve more in less time, thus boosting your organization’s productivity. 

7 talent development hacks 

1Understand your employees’ strengths 

Understanding your employees’ strengths is essential for optimizing your talent development efforts. Leadership needs to truly know what it is that is unique about each person on their team and then capitalize on these strengths. In an article by the Harvard Business Review, Marcus Buckingham gives a great analogy concerning this: 

“Average managers play checkers, while great managers play chess. The difference? In checkers, all the pieces are uniform and move in the same way; they are interchangeable. You need to plan and coordinate their movements, certainly, but they all move at the same pace, on parallel paths. In chess, each type of piece moves in a different way, and you can’t play if you don’t know how each piece moves. More important, you won’t win if you don’t think carefully about how you move the pieces. Great managers know and value the unique abilities and even the eccentricities of their employees, and they learn how best to integrate them into a coordinated plan of attack.”

2Prioritize leadership skills over management skills

It’s essential for any organization to focus on prioritizing leadership skills more than management skills. Leadership development that is focused on current and prospective leaders is an important part of talent development. Each manager should also have a leadership development plan so they are strengthening individuals’ abilities to lead and to develop healthy behaviors that will help build trust and improve relationships with direct reports. 

3Foster an effective feedback loop 

Fostering an effective feedback loop is another great way that helps strengthen your talent development efforts. Giving and receiving feedback opens a window for honest and open communication, which strengthens trust and also supports employees and managers in evolving. With Fellow, you can incorporate feedback into your team’s day-to-day experience and track progress over time. Asking for feedback about yourself is a great way to normalize feedback and build psychological safety across your team.

4Create a culture of continuous learning

Make it a priority to create a culture of continuous learning for employees and for leadership. When it’s the norm to participate in workshops, training opportunities, and development programs, people are much more likely to engage in them. Make sure that you set clear expectations with each employee concerning what their training and development expectations are. This will enable you to support them in setting goals for themselves so you can guide them to achieve these objectives. 

5Foster a group mindset

Many minds will always be able to outperform one. Amazing things can be achieved when people come together with their unique skills and abilities. To foster consistent and effective collaboration, make sure that you are cultivating a group mindset. Cultivate a group mindset by having employees work together, seek advice and support from one another, and offer many team-building sessions. Think about what kinds of reward systems the company offers and ensure they are rewards that are linked to using a group mindset. 

6Identify opportunities for upskilling and reskilling

Another one of our talent development hacks is to identify opportunities for upskilling and reskilling. Upskilling is one way to address or fill the organization’s current and future needs. In upskilling, the aim is for employees to add to their existing body of knowledge. Alternatively, reskilling involves learning completely new skills that are foreign to or different from those required in a given role. Reskilling is often required when an employee is preparing to work towards a promotion, make a lateral move, or take on a new responsibility in their current position. Identify where your organization requires upskilling versus reskilling so you can continue to strengthen your approach to talent development. 

7Offer training opportunities 

Be sure to offer diverse training opportunities to your employees and management. This can include internal or external training and can be through offering courses or even allocating a learning budget to each employee. Providing these training opportunities will improve employee performance, retention, and productivity, all while contributing to the company culture. 

Parting advice 

These talent development hacks can support your organization in achieving more and your employees in feeling purposeful and satisfied at work. Focusing on your talent development strategy will help you use and allocate your resources more effectively and reach your goals with greater ease. Employees want to be a part of an organization where they feel they can reach their potential and where they have adequate support and guidance from leadership to continue evolving both personally and professionally. Be sure to revisit these talent development best practices when you’re ready to level up the opportunities that you’re offering to your workforce. 

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