6 Talent Concerns that Need Your Attention

Talent development is a matrix of strategies and processes that must work in concert for real impact.

People refer to talent development as if it is one thing, but it’s actually a matrix of strategies and processes that must work in concert for real impact. While all processes are important in their own right, here are six talent concerns that, based on Brandon Hall Group’s early 2019 research, deserve more attention because of their strategic impact on successful talent development.

1. High-Potential Identification

The employees you select are your future leaders. Many organizations still identify employee potential based on past and current performance. But research shows there is no correlation between performance and potential. Some people perform well but may not have the skills or aspirations beyond what they are doing. Others don’t perform well, but it might because they are a bad match for the position.

High-potentials should be identified based on:

  • Dreams, goals, and milestones. What do these employees want to do and accomplish? How do their goals align with the goals and needs of the business?
  • Engagement. What are these employees doing to reach their goals? Do they seek new responsibilities? Do they share ideas to improve the organization? Are they collaborative and participate in cross-functional teams? Do they promote the organization internally and externally?
  • Capacity and Ability. Are these employees intelligent? Are they critical thinkers and solution-oriented? Do they demonstrate high emotional intelligence?

All of those elements correspond to potential.

Succession planning is another huge area of need for most organizations, but it becomes easier and more consequential if talent reviews are focused on people who are more likely to successfully fill your critical roles.

2. Assessments

Assessments are excellent tools to identify employees’ potential, understand their development needs, predict job performance, and determine organizational fit, among other things. To get the most from assessments, you need a strategy that leverages a range of assessment types throughout the employee lifecycle. These include aptitude, behavioral, cognitive, skills and personality assessments, plus practical simulations. Only 20 percent of organizations employ such a strategy, while approximately one-third use assessments only on an ad-hoc basis, according to the 2019 Brandon Hall Group Assessments Study. If you don’t have a strategic, consistent approach around assessments, we recommend developing one with key stakeholders.

3. Coaching and Mentoring

Providing more feedback, coaching, and mentoring to help employees improve their performance is a big focus for most organizations. However, the majority of employers forget a critical element—training managers and coaches. Fewer than half offer formal training. Not surprisingly, only 36 percent of organizations say their coaching/mentoring programs are effective, according to the 2018Brandon Hall  Group  Performance  ManagementStudy. Coaching is a huge part of the talent-development process. Do yourself a big favor and train your managers—it will pay dividends.

4. Career Development

Besides collecting a paycheck, most employees have two basic goals from employment:

  • Meaningful work
  • Growth opportunities

Most organizations fail at the latter. Only 9 percent of organizations provide clear career paths for more than half of their employees, the 2018 Brandon Hall Group Career Development Study found. Is there any wonder most employers have engagement and talent retention problems? The biggest barriers to creating career paths are linking them to competencies and creating personalized learning opportunities to develop the capabilities that can lead to career growth. This is not an easy process because it requires alignment of learning, competencies, and career pathing. But technology is a great enabler. Organizations that support career and competency development with technology are almost three times more likely to have more employees with clear, well-communicated career advancement plans, according to the 2018 Brandon Hall Group Career Development Study.

5. Team Development

Collaboration is the future of work. The silos that dominated work for generations are coming down. Cross-functional teams increasingly are relied upon to get important work done. This requires employees who understand how teams work and their roles in making them successful. It also requires leaders who enable, coach, and mentor rather than command and control. Beyond training, organizations must figure out how to assess, improve, and reward team performance and assess, improve, and reward individuals’ work in teams. Managing the performance of teams is in its infancy, which is why it needs more attention: Only 26 percent of organizations have a formal performance management process for teams; and team performance impacts an individual’s performance appraisal in only 35 percent of organizations, the 2018 Brandon Hall Group Performance Management Study found.

6. Data and Analysis

In today’s digital and global economy, employers face complex and difficult decisions on how to develop, reposition, and reskill their workforces at the speed of business—without making mistakes.

Traditionally, talent decisions have been subjective and vulnerable to bias. Brandon Hall Group research shows that even when talent decisions are data driven, 70 percent take a retrospective approach—trying to understand what has happened (2019 Brandon Hall Group People Data and Analytics Study). While that’s important, the full potential of data can’t be realized until more organizations leverage it to determine what should happen. For human capital management (HCM) functions to have real business impact, they must be able to predict the future, using analytics, to have the right talent on hand at the right place at the right time. In other words, they must become data-driven organizations. This cannot be achieved until sophisticated talent analytics becomes part of an organization’s DNA. Right now, data and analytics ranks 12th out of 14 categories in terms of talent management investment, according to the 2019 Brandon Hall Group HCM Outlook Study. That must change. Talent organizations that are not data driven will be left behind.

Download a free copy of Tool to Use: Determining Your Organization’s Performance Management Priorities

Claude Werder is the Vice President of Research Operations and Principal HCM Analyst at Brandon Hall GroupThe firm’s vision is to inspire a better workplace experience, and its mission is to empower excellence in organizations around the world through its research and tools. Brandon Hall Group has five HCM practices and produces the Brandon Hall Group HCM Excellence Awards and the annual HCM Excellence Conference, in West Palm Beach, FL, February 4-6, 2020.

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