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Talent development is something we all know is important- but many companies are investing tons of time and money into it, and not yielding results. When there are no results, it gets harder to continue to get buy-in for investing in it, and efforts may become abandoned, which is a loss for everybody. 

Here are 6 reasons why your talent development strategy may be failing.

1. There is not a sense of psychological safety in the workplace. 

A successful strategy will have a large emphasis on interpersonal skills. But many times, there is a sense of rigidity in the organization, and entrenched styles and avenues of communication. An entry level employee, for example, may not feel comfortable being totally honest with someone higher up. In order for talent development to be impactful and transformative, there must be a sense of psychological safety in the work environment. In such an environment, subordinates feel comfortable playing an active role and speaking up about their goals or about challenges that they are facing. Employees need to trust that they can be authentic without being penalized.  And workplaces with high levels of trust perform better- employees in more closely knit communities report that they feel 76% more engaged with their jobs.

2. There are no top-down champions.

According to the 2020 Linkedin Learning Report, only 27% of learning and development professionals report that their CEOs are active top-down champions of learning across the organization itself. There needs to be an organizational ethos that emphasizes the importance of talent development. Company executives need to be aligned around the strategy, and they need to show enthusiasm and be active champions of it. This will make employees at all levels more engaged and invested as well.

3. There is information overload with no real-world reinforcement.

Many organizations try to pack a big punch when it comes to talent development by cramming a bunch of programming into a one-off seminar or workshop. These workshops can definitely be impactful, but often as a standalone tactic for talent development, they result in an overload of information that is quickly forgotten. Furthermore, single instance workshops can often feel isolated from the day-to-day workplace. Employees attend the workshops, but then struggle to apply what they’ve learned to their daily work routines, and fail to retain most of the learnings- in fact, the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve demonstrates that learners forget 90% of taught information that isn’t reinforced. A successful talent development needs to diversify to include several avenues of training, such as in-person workshops in conjunction with online learning and a mentorship program.

4. It is not aligned with business needs.

In order to suss out the unique needs of an organization’s talent development plan, executives need to have a clear picture of the short and long term business needs. They must determine the skills gaps that are getting in the way of achieving those needs, and use those gaps to inform the strategy. Doing so creates a clear path to developing specific, actionable learning objectives, and to demonstrate a true ROI by seeing if those needs are met as a result of the talent development efforts.

5. Training is viewed as a linear path, not a constant effort.

Many companies view talent development as a linear path- teach employees X amount of skills, and they will reach the end marker of “greet employee”. But good talent development does not work like that. A successful talent development strategy is driven by the reality that talent development should be ongoing- there is always more that can be learned, and there is never a shortage of opportunities to practice and sharpen learned skills in the workplace. Talent development is a lot like working out- you can spend a whole day in the gym, and not see any results. But by spending 30 minutes in the gym over a period of time, you will see results and maintain health for as long as you continue to do so.

6. There is a lack of support for managers.

Executive championship is important, but on a granular level, managers are the people that will really be driving talent development amongst their teams.They are the ones who will be encouraging their team members to get involved, and measuring engagement and impact on a regular basis. They have a great impact- Gallup found that they influence at least 70% of your employees’ engagement. But many talent development strategies do not account for the fact that managers need training and support so that they can train and support their own teams. A good talent development plan includes specific training for managers that addresses their specific role in the process, and how they can ensure success.

Are you ready to improve your talent development strategy? Verb can help. Schedule time to talk to one of our experts to learn more.

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